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haven's end 
the late george apley 

wickford point 

h. m. pulham, esquire 

so little time 

repent in haste 

b. f.'s daughter 














The lines from "If" are from Rewards and Fairies by 
Rudyard Kipling. Copyright 1910 by Rudyard Kipling, re- 
printed by permission of Mrs. George Bambridge and Double- 
day & Company, Inc. 

The lines from "The Highwayman" are from Collected 
Poems in One Volume by Alfred Noyes. Copyright 1906, 
1934, 1947, by Alfred Noyes. Reprinted by permission of the 
publishers, J. B. Lippincott Company. 


To Cousin Lucy, with love 

Author's Note 

Anyone who has ever written a novel hopes that his work will con- 
vey an illusion of reality to anyone who may read it, and I am no 
exception. In attempting to achieve this purpose, I have, naturally, 
drawn on my memories of two world wars, but all characters appear- 
ing in these pages are imaginary creations. With whatever degree of 
success they may live in print, not one of them represents any person 
I have ever known or heard of, either living or dead. 


v/I You Will Love Its Full, Exciting Flavor . . . and 

Now, Mr. Sidney Skelton 3 

II So Jolly Boys Now . . . Here's God Speed the 

Plough . . . Long Life and Success to the Farmer 16 

III And Mr. Gilbert Frary Has Another Good Sug- 

gestion 35 

IV If Necessary, She Would Have Done Very Well in 

Iceland 51 

V The Army Couldn't Have Been Sweeter 64 

VI Sid, Here, Knows What I Mean ... 83 

VII Always More Brass Where He Came From 99 

VIII It's Just the Old Man Taking Over 115 

IX It Must Have Been Those Decoration Day Parades 140 

X Time to Call Him "Mel" 154 

XI Clausewitz Would Have Concurred 165 

XII "If You Can Dream and Not Make Dreams Your 

Master . . ." 188 

XIII Don't Say You Didn't Mean It, Mel 203 

XIV Your Congressman Always Knows Best 216 
XV A West Pointer Looks at Hallowell 229 

XVI The Color's Getting Lighter Every Year 236 

XVII "Nor Certitude, nor Peace, nor Help for Pain" 250 

XVIII Who Pants for Glory Finds but Short Repose 269 

XIX His Neck Was Out a Mile 282 

XX Just a Little Dutch Girl — with Her Finger in the 

Dike 299 

XXI No Mothers to Guide Them 3 X 3 

XXII Brave Days on Officers' Row 329 

XXIII Right Under "H" in the Dictionary 350 

XXIV A Short Quote from Kipling 3 6 4 
XXV War Is Hell — in Alexandria or Anywhere Else 378 

XXVI Once More the Sirens Sing 4°3 

XXVII There Could Always Be a Palace Revolution 418 

XXVIII But Don't Quote the General Personally 438 

XXIX Time to Meet the Gang 457 

XXX It Was a Lot of Fun with Goochy 47 s 

XXXI It Was Almost a Celebration 5°4 

XXXII The Service Takes Care of Its Own 5 2 3 

XXXIII She Had to Say "Poor Sidney" 543 

XXXIV And She Never Dropped a Stitch 5 6 7 
XXXV "Generals Are Human. I Know of None Immune 

to Error." — Omar N. Bradley 5 8 3 



You Will Love Its Full, Exciting Flavor . . . and Now, 
Mr. Sidney Skelton 

I knew nothing about what General Melville A. Goodwin had 
done in Berlin until I read o£ his feat in my own script shortly before 
going on the air one evening in October 1949. 

Because of a luncheon engagement in New York that day, I broad- 
casted from the New York studio instead of from my library in Con- 
necticut. I entered the building at approximately six and while wait- 
ing for the elevator, I noticed that a personally conducted group of 
tourists had gathered behind me. They had all bought tickets for a 
quick trip through the works, and they were being guided by one of 
the studio ushers, a nice fresh-faced boy dressed in a tailless coat of 
Confederate gray and gold. 

Just about to enter the car ahead of us," I heard the boy say, "is 
Mr. Sidney Skelton, the commentator. He goes on the air at seven 

There was a low excited murmur, and I still had perspective 
enough to be confused and embarrassed by this sort of thing. 

At the thirty-seventh floor there was another boy in gray and gold 
who also knew me. 

"Good evening, Mr. Skelton," he said. 

"Good evening, son," I answered. 

Then I remembered a statement by the gamekeeper in Lady Chat- 
terleys hover — that males would be more emancipated and prouder, 
too, if a universal law could be passed obliging them all to wear coats 
that did not conceal their buttocks. I have forgotten why D. H. Law- 
rence's character felt so strongly on this subject, but the boy certainly 
looked very happy and very proud in his gray monkey jacket. He 


must have been given a good briefing on his responsibilities and his 
bright future when he got his studio job, and he still believed so ob- 
viously all they had told him that he made me wish that I, too, were 
his age, dressed up like a Roxy usher, instead of the synthetic person- 
ality I had become. 

Miss Maynard, my studio secretary, was waiting for me in my 

"Good evening, Mr. Skelton," she said. "It's going to be in 
Studio A. Mr. Frary hopes you don't mind." 

Miss Maynard meant that I was to read the script in the studio into 
which the public could stare through soundproof glass. I might have 
told her, though I didn't, that it made no difference where I read the 
thing. I had read it from the top of Pikes Peak and from the ball- 
room of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and from the press box of the 
Rose Bowl in Pasadena — a change of scene was all a part of the 
show. The success of the program lay in my voice and not my brains, 
and in an accepted tradition I was being turned into a world trav- 
eler who appeared in odd places gathering material. I was not even 
encouraged to give much thought to the preparation of the script 
myself, because it was my voice and personality that they wanted, 
and Art Hertz, who usually put the piece together for me, knew 
radio technique. I could trust him for the timing and I could trust 
his balance of language, too, but still I did like to read the whole 
thing over first instead of taking it on cold. After all, the latest spon- 
sor was paying close to a million dollars for the program. 

"You sound a little hoarse tonight, Mr. Skelton," Miss Maynard 

"Oh no," I said, "I'm not, really, but I would like a little soda with 
a piece of ice in it." 

Miss Maynard opened the door of a cellaret while I hung up my 
hat and coat. I glanced up at the electric clock with its relentlessly 
moving second hand, sharply conscious of precision and passing 
time, though all the rest of the office seemed designed to make one 
forget such things. The place had been redecorated after the new 
contract had been signed, and it now sported a hunter green car- 
pet and green and chartreuse leather upholstered furniture. There 

was also a collection of blown-up photographs on the wall showing 
Sidney Skelton, the commentator, looking at the Pyramids, gazing 
raptly at the Taj and at the Forbidden City in Peking, boarding the 
battleship Missouri and shaking hands with General Eisenhower. I 
had personally been against this final touch and I had said so — but 
it was a million-dollar program. There had to be a proper office, a 
hideaway where Mr. Skelton prepared his broadcasts. It was twenty- 
three minutes after six. 

"If Mr. Hertz is anywhere around, I'd better see him," I said. 

Of course Art was around because this was his business. If we were 
going on in Studio A, I would have to read without glasses, so I 
should go over the script carefully. I unbuttoned my vest and took a 
sip of the soda. 

"Hello, Sid," Art said. 

"Hello, you big bastard," I answered. "Let's see what you have, 
and pour yourself a drink if you want one." 

This was only a conventional greeting. Art weighed two hundred 
pounds and he was not a bastard. He was a very able script- writer. 
He was so good, in fact, that it had occurred to me recently that it 
might be wise, all things considered, if I spent a day in the newsroom 

"I think it's all right," Art said, "and there's a cute little snap at 
the end about a boy scout in Cedar Rapids in an iron lung." 

"Don't spoil it," I said, "let it just come over me," and I picked up 
the script. It began with the usual salutation, "Good evening, 
friends," but the next words startled me. 

"What's this?" I asked. "I didn't know we were close to war 

"Didn't you?" Art said. "Haven't you read the evening papers?" 

Time was moving on. There was no time to be ironical about be- 
ing out of touch. It was six thirty-three. 

"Good evening, friends," I read. "We were close to war this after- 
noon. The long-dreaded flare-up occurred today on the border of the 
Russian sector in Berlin. We know tonight that war was averted, or 
at least the incident that might have precipitated war, by the clear 
thinking of one American soldier. What is this soldier's name ? You 

will hear it everywhere tonight. The name is Melville A. Goodwin, 
the man of the hour and the minute. Major General Melville Good- 
win, whom you might call a GFs general . . ." 

"Oh no!" I said. "Not Mel Goodwin." 

"Do you know him?" Art asked. 

"Yes," I said, "I know him. He was in the breakout at Saint-L6, 
and I saw him later in Paris." 

"I am sorry I didn't know that," Art said. "It would have warmed 
the whole thing up, but maybe we can wangle ten more seconds. 
You'd better get started — we haven't got much time." 

I should have been there earlier. As it was, there was only time for 
one excision in the script and a single insert: "This all fits my old 
friend, Mel Goodwin, to a T, the Mel Goodwin I met when he was 
commanding his armored division before the breakout at Saint-L6 
— none of the stiffness, none of the protocol which one associates 
with big brass. It's like him to want his friends to call him Mel." 

Little warm bits like this, the statistical department had discovered, 
were apt to boost the Crosley rating. 

If you have seen one bombed city in the phony peace that has fol- 
lowed World War II, there is small need to see the others. All those 
cities — London, Tokyo, Berlin, and even Manila, which is as bad as 
the worst — have struggled to erect a facade of decency which is 
pathetic and not yet convincing. Tokyo, for instance, would like it to 
appear that its burnt-out area was always vacant land. London un- 
consciously tries to convince the visitor that nothing much ever went 
wrong there. The extent of ruin in all these places comes over you 
gradually, even the spectacular devastation of Berlin. Throughout 
Berlin, however, there has remained the indescribable scent of rub- 
ble, the dank, dusty smell of stone and brick and plaster and rotting 
wood and rust, and a stale antiseptic chemical explosive odor has 
mingled with all the rest of it. 

The Berlin street that marked the boundary between this particu- 
lar part of the American and Russian sectors must still have had that 
smell when Mel Goodwin walked down it. I have forgotten its name 
or what it looks like, although I surely saw it when I was in the city 


last. Berlin architecture from Bismarck's time through Hitler's has 
always impressed me as grotesquely unimaginative, and anyway if 
you have traveled enough by air, all streets in cities have a discon- 
certing way of mingling in your memory. 

The trouble had started when a Russian patrol picked up a 
drunken American private who had wandered across the line and 
an American patrol had appeared a second later and grabbed a Rus- 
sian sergeant. The Russians began readying their tommy guns. They 
were always fond of waving these weapons, and the American lieu- 
tenant got rattled. There had been a good chance that somebody 
would shoot, when Mel Goodwin walked around the corner with a 
correspondent from the Associated Press. Mel Goodwin had been 
ordered to Berlin from Frankfurt with an officers' group, for infor- 
mation and instruction, but no one in Berlin seemed to have heard 
about the group, much less its purpose, when it reached there, and 
the incident would never have made the news if it had not been for 
the presence of the AP correspondent. 

When Mel Goodwin saw the trouble, as he told me later he 
walked into the middle of the street and halted in front of the Rus- 
sian officer, who pointed a tommy gun at his stomach. The Russian 
was a rawboned gangling boy who looked very nervous. In fact 
everyone was very nervous. The thing to remember, Mel Goodwin 
said, was that troops are always troops in any army and that all 
troops act alike. The thing to remember was that no one wanted to 
start the shooting. He never knew whether or not the Russians rec- 
ognized his rank, because quite often British troops did not know 
what stars on the shoulder meant. It may have been his age, he said 
that influenced the outcome, or it may have only been his knowing 
that troops were troops; but anyway he stood in front of the Russian 
officer for a second or two, he said, looking at the tommy gun, and 
then he lighted a cigarette. He did not offer one to the officer because 
he was sick and tired of giving cigarettes to foreigners. 

"Then I pushed that gun away from my stomach," he said, "and 
gave the boy a friendly slap on the tail* 

That was all there was to the incident, Mel said. No one had 
wanted to start shooting, and the slap on the tail broke the tension. 


He laughed and the Russian laughed and then they shook hands and 
the Russian sergeant was swapped off for the American drunk. No 
one should have given it another thought, and the story should have 
been stopped at headquarters. There had been too many civilian- 
minded people mixed up with the army during the war and after- 
ward, and too much public relations. Personally he was sick of public 
relations. He had gone to headquarters immediately and had re- 
ported the incident, first verbally, then in writing. He was particu- 
larly careful to say that a news correspondent was present and to sug- 
gest that any dispatch should be suppressed. He did not prevent any 
war, he said. He did not know anything about the publicity until 
orders came over the teletype for him to return immediately to 
Washington. Nobody outside the army until then had ever heard 
much of Major General Melville Goodwin. 

I have often wondered why any thoughts of mine should have lin- 
gered on Mel Goodwin that evening after the broadcast was over. I 
had only met him briefly in Normandy, and then there had been one 
turbid and rather ridiculous interlude in Paris when he had made an 
off-the-record ass of himself with my old friend Dottie Peale. It was 
even difficult to separate his face or words or actions from those of 
other American generals who were under instructions to be affable 
with the press and who customarily referred to war as though it were 
a football game. From my observation professional generals looked 
alike, thought alike and reacted in an identical manner. It made no 
difference whether they were in the Pacific or in India or in the 
European theater. No matter how genial they might try to be — and 
personally I was inclined to respect the disagreeable more than the 
jovial ones — you could not evaluate them as you evaluated other 
people. You could not feel the same warmth or pity or liking for 
generals, because they had all dropped some factor in the human 
equation as soon as they had rated a car with one of those flags on 
it and a chauffeur and an aide to get them cigarettes. After the first 
flush of excitement which came from knowing them, the best thing 
to do, I always thought, was to keep as far away from them as pos- 
sible and to drink and play cards with bird colonels or lower mem- 


bers of the staff. Attention! Here comes the general. We were 
just playing a little bridge, sir. Would the general care to ta^e 
a hand? 

On the whole it was advisable not to play around with generals or 
to expect anything rewarding from generals' jokes, unless by chance 
the generals were doctors. Nevertheless, something between the lines 
of Mel Goodwin's story stayed with me, something I had half for- 
gotten of that shifting, unnatural and regulated world in Africa and 
the ETO. I was thinking of this when Art Hertz and I went into 
Gilbert Frary's office after the broadcast. Gilbert was in official 
charge of the program and he acted as liaison between the studio and 
the sponsor. 

"How do you think it went, Gilbert?" Art asked. 

It occurred to me that Art had been pushing himself around re- 
cently more than was necessary. It was up to me, not Art, to ask that 
question. Gilbert inserted a cigarette in an ivory holder and lighted 
the cigarette with a gold lighter. We both sat watching him respect- 
fully. After all, Gilbert was responsible for the program. 

"Frankly," Gilbert said, "at first I was a little disappointed. That 
whole Berlin business seemed artificially exaggerated, though of 
course we were following the evening papers. I don't see why that 
news took hold the way it did, but then you warmed it up very 
nicely, Sidney. You got enthusiasm into it, especially about his being 
a GFs general and liking to be called Mel. That's interesting that you 
knew him. What is he really like?" 

"He's like all the rest of them," I said. "Nobody ought to try to 
warm them up." 

The telephone on Gilbert's Italian refectory table rang and Gilbert 
reached for it eagerly. "Yes," he said, "yes, George. I'm glad you 
liked it, George. I thought it was well balanced, and I thought Sid- 
ney put a lot in it." He hung up the telephone. "Well," he said, 
"George Burtheimer likes it, and George isn't like other sponsors. 
He doesn't often call up. Shall we go somewhere and eat?" 

"I'm just having a sandwich in the office, Gilbert," I said. "I ought 
to start back home." 

"You'll be doing it from home tomorrow, will you ?" Gilbert asked. 

"Yes," I said, "if that's all right with you, Gilbert.'* 

"It's all right," Gilbert said, "if you don't do it too often, Sidney. 
There's value in the illusion of your moving around. I wish you'd 
think about going out to the West Coast again with me next month. 
People like to see you, and the customers always enjoy hearing some- 
thing from Hollywood." 

It had only come over me recently how ironic the relationship was 
that existed between Gilbert Frary and Art Hertz and me, though 
as far as Art went he was only on the edge of it. You could always 
get another writer. The town was full of writers — but between 
Gilbert and me the bond was closer. We were becoming more and 
more like two boys running a three-legged race at a Sunday school 
picnic, tied together, our arms about each other's shoulders. No mat- 
ter what we thought of each other — and I had been growing some- 
what suspicious of Gilbert lately — we had to love each other, we 
had to stick together. 

Gilbert was looking at me affectionately now, yet in a speculative 
way that I could appreciate. Gilbert had made me what I was today. 
He had picked me out of nowhere for his own purposes. He was a 
very bright entrepreneur, one of those peculiar, highly astute prod- 
ucts of the American entertainment world. Gilbert, I often thought, 
could have succeeded in any field which demanded negotiating skill 
and intelligence. He could have been as successful in the film indus- 
try as in radio. He could have run a racing stable or a fighter stable. 
He had theories which he could relate to reality, and best of all, he 
did not have enough perspective to engender doubt of self. He was 
the son of a Kansas City grocer, one of a family of eight. Occasion- 
ally, in an intimate mood and with the successful man's wonder at 
what had befallen him, he did not mind speaking of his background 
— but you would have had no idea where he had come from as he 
sat there in his tuxedo. He had what he called "changes" in his office 
dressing room, and he always appeared in a tuxedo at six o'clock. 

Gilbert was always saying that he loved people. He needed them 
around him. He was always saying that he loved me, and I imagine 
he honestly believed this, though of course his handling of my ca- 
reer reflected favorably on himself. Love never did mean quite the 


same thing in the entertainment business as in less volatile circles. 

Gilbert had picked my voice out of the air one night. He always 
liked to tell the story. He was just sitting casually in his suite at the 
St. Regis before going to the theater, and for no good reason he had 
turned his radio dial to a program from London put on by Army 
Public Relations shortly after V-E Day. My job with SHAEF at the 
time had consisted of personally conducting Very Important People 
to very important points of interest, and I had been ordered to in- 
troduce some of these personages on the air. There was no end to 
the strange things they made you do in those days. I had to compose 
an introduction for Valerie James, the actress, I remember, and God 
knows why any branch of the army had ever given Valerie James a 
free trip abroad, and I had also been ordered to prepare a few words 
about Mr. Hubert Hudson, who owned a string of Middle Western 
newspapers and who, I am sorry to say, had fallen in love with Val- 
erie James at Claridge's. I had not minded writing the script, because 
I had been a newspaperman myself before I had gone down to 
Washington to do what I could for my country, but when a man 
named Major Marcus, who knew all about radio and who was going 
to read the script, could not be found at the crucial moment because 
he had disappeared somewhere with the little Wac who did the 
typing, I had objected violently to taking his place. There you have 
it, the whole little drama that Gilbert Frary always loved to re-enact. 
Sitting in his suite at the St. Regis, no doubt in his tuxedo, Gilbert 
had been impressed by my voice. It had new quality, he said, fresh- 
ness, unself-consciousness and integrity. 

"Sidney," he used to say when he told the story, and he had been 
telling it more and more often recently, "would you mind saying a 
few words, just anything, so that everyone can understand what I 
mean. . . . You see what I mean now, don't you? Sidney's a natu- 
ral. You get the impact, don't you ? You would believe Sidney if he 
told you he had stopped beating his wife. You see what I mean ? His 
words stand out and at the same time hang together, and you see 
what I mean by his timing ? It all makes up into what, for want of a 
better word, I call integrity. Sidney's voice is what Spencer Tracy 
and Gary Cooper are in the movies photogenically. Like Spencer 


and Gary, Sidney has effortless sincerity, which is the same thing as 
integrity in the final analysis, isn't it ?" 

When Gilbert continued along those lines, it was best to listen to 
him as little as possible, but at any rate he had made me what I was. 
Another man, even an agent, would have left the St. Regis, gone to 
the theater and forgotten all about it, but Gilbert called up Wash- 
ington, and now there we were, four years later. 

"Well, good-by, Sidney," Gilbert said. "By the way, Marie and I 
are giving one of our Sunday night suppers at the St. Regis for 
George Burtheimer. He'll be in from Chicago. Just a few interesting 
people. I think Spencer may be with us. He's coming on from the 

Coast." , TT , 

"That sounds wonderful," I said, "but I'll have to ask Helen. 
I don't know what Helen's planned for Sunday." 

A year ago I would have simply said it sounded wonderful. I 
would not have said I would ask Helen what she had planned, and 
Gilbert knew it. The trouble was he had done too well with me. 
He had made me into a Frankenstein creation which might move 
out of his control. He now had to guard against my becoming a 
monster. My voice had too much integrity. 

"Well, come if you possibly can," Gilbert said, "and if you and 
Helen are entertaining any friends over the week end, Marie and I 
would love to have them also, and you can come, can't you, Art?" 
"Why, yes, Gilbert," Art said, "it sounds wonderful." 
"That new chauffeur of yours is working out all right, isn't he, 
Sidney?" Gilbert asked. 
"Yes, Gilbert," I said, "he's wonderful." 

"I am glad the new chauffeur and the Cadillac are working out, 
Sidney," Gilbert said. "Well, so long. We must have a good long 
talk some day soon, the way we used to. I am very glad that George 
Burtheimer was happy about the general." 

For a long while I had been struggling with an increasing sense of 
being far removed from everything which I had hitherto considered 
real Quite suddenly I had been relieved of most of my old ambitions 
as well as of nearly every species of material want. If this unfamiliar 
condition was creating new ambitions and new desires, these did not 


appear to have the urgency of the old ones. It was all disorientating - 
the corridors with the ushers, the air-conditioned purity which ban- 
ished even a puff of cigarette smoke, my own gay office, my secre- 
tary, who was very beautiful like all the front-row company secre- 
taries, and certainly Gilbert Frary. If I had been killed in Normandy 
— hardly a possible contingency, but then something did occasionally 
happen to Public Relations officers — I would never have had to cope 
with present problems. My career might have formed the plot of the 
sort of slick story that women read in beauty parlors, when they are 
waiting under the dryer in another world of unreality. 

"Sidney," Gilbert had said to me once, "this all -I mean what 
has happened to you, if you understand me — must seem to you 
very much like a fairy story, coming as suddenly as it has." 
"If you mean that there are a lot of them around, you are rieht 

Gilbert," I said. * ' 

"No, no," Gilbert answered, "I mean it entirely in a nice way, but 

if you were to write down what has happened to you, it would be 

unbelievable. It would not have true fictional value." 
"You mean, Gilbert," I asked, "that truth is stranger than fiction?" 
"You know I'm not as obvious as that, Sidney," Gilbert said. "I 

mean that few episodes in real life fit snugly into a fictional frame. 

They are too incongruous. Willie Maugham told me that once." 
"I thought his name was just W. Somerset Maugham," I said. 
"His friends call him Willie," Gilbert said. "Didn't you know? 

I call him Willie. Marie is devoted to him. You would like each 

other because you have one great trait in common." 
"All right," I said, "what trait?" 

"Integrity," Gilbert said. "Both you and Willie have great integ- 
rity, and what is more, you have something else that is even more 

valuable. You have loyalty, Sidney, great loyalty." 
"If you mean I recognize all you've done for me and that I won't 

let you down ..." I began. 

"I know you won't let me down," Gilbert said, "and that's why 
1 11 always love you, Sidney." 

Perhaps he would always love me, but I knew he would let me 
down at any moment if it would do him any good. 


Miss Maynard was waiting for me when I stopped in to get mj 


"A call has just come in for you, Mr. Skelton," she said. "I sent 
one of the boys to page you. Didn't he find you?" 

"I thought all calls were going to be stopped down at the board," 

I told her. 

"I know," Miss Maynard said, "but this was personal. She said 
you would want to speak to her. It's Mrs. Peale." 

"Oh, all right," I said, and I picked up the telephone. "Hello, 


"Hello," Dottie said, "how's your goddam voice?" 

"It's fine," I said. "It's got me a chauffeur and a Cadillac." 

"How's your integrity?" Dottie asked. 

"It's fine," I said, "how's yours?" 

There was a second's silence, as though she were thinking of some- 
thing, but she would not have called me up if she had not thought 

"Darling, how about your dropping everything and taking me out 

to dinner?" 

"I can't," I said. "Helen's expecting me, but I'd like to some other 

time, Dottie." 

"How is Helen?" she asked. "Why does everyone who gets any- 
where move to Connecticut?" 

"You never have," I said. 

"You know me," she said. "I'm a city girl, but I'll motor out some- 
time if you'll ask me. How's Camilla? Did she get the copy of Little 
Women I sent her? I just saw it in a window and thought of 
Camilla. I was brought up on Little Women." 

Her thoughts, I knew, were returning as they often did to her 
small-town girlhood, and as time had gone on, Dottie could tell 
about it very prettily. 

"Camilla loved it," I said, "and now she's reading Little Men." ^ 

"I'm glad," she said. "Jo should have married Laurie, shouldn't 


"Everything pointed that way once," I said. "How have you been 
otherwise, Dottie?" There was another hesitation, not exactly a 


silence. I knew she did not want me to take her to dinner and that 
she wanted something else. 

"Darling," she said, "I just heard you on the air. Isn't it wonderful 
about Mel?" 

"Oh — Mel," I repeated, and she laughed. 

"Don't be so vague, darling," she said. 

"Why, yes," I said, "it's swell." 

"Don't sound cross about it, darling," she said, "just because he 
made you run errands for him at the Ritz and I made you run 
errands, too." 

I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. I had never liked 
chatting over the telephone, and Dottie was never out of reach of 
one, but at least I knew what she wanted as soon as she mentioned 
Mel Goodwin. 

"If you want his address," I said, "I don't know it, or his number." 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "don't you know anything about him?" 

Mel Goodwin belonged to the war world I had left. 

"Oh Sid," she said, "don't you even know if he is coming 
home? . . . Well, please let me know if you do hear anything." 

"Why don't you leave that poor old guy alone?" I said. "He'll 
look different over here." 

"Don't be so censorious," she said. "When can I see you?" 

"I don't know," I said. 

"Darling," she said, "how about lunch on Monday?" 



So Jolly Boys Now . . . Here's God Speed the Plough 
. . . Long Life and Success to the Farmer 

Gilbert Frary had always handled my contracts, documents 
which, even when I tried to read them, left me intellectually unful- 
filled. I cannot believe that Gilbert understood the verbiage either, 
but he could put his finger on the basic points. A contract, he said, 
was an instrument out of which you either made or lost money. 
I needn't bother about any of this, he said. It was best to leave it 
all to him, and I always had left it to Gilbert until recently, when 
I had been having the whole business checked by an independent 
law firm. Gilbert and I had always enjoyed some sort of a mutual 
trust, and he had been deeply hurt when he found that I had been 
doing this, because, he said, his own lawyers were protecting us. 
At any rate, in the latest contract there was a large appropriation for 
travel and business entertainment outside of salary, and somehow 
even the house in Connecticut had entered into the transaction. 
Also, a Cadillac car, "or any other motor in this general price range," 
and "a responsible and adequate chauffeur" were set aside in the con- 
tract for my business use. 

This business transportation was waiting outside the building 
now, directly in front of the main entrance between two No Parking 
signs. The police understood the arrangement, and perhaps this, too, 
was included in the contract, although I had never asked. Williams, 
the chauffeur, was out on the sidewalk the moment he saw me, and 
as always he impressed me as unlike the ordinary chauffeur who 
drove cars for people who were used to cars. He was overemphasized 
in every way — a sort of stage effect. He was too eager, too sober, 
too reliable. He was both a friend and an old retainer, and he always 


made me wonder how many other people he had retained for and 
who they could have been, because he did it all so perfectly. His 
uniform was too new, but there was no false detail. He was a nicely 
planned part of the program, and he was so far beyond criticism 
that I could only criticize my own uneasiness. 

As he opened the door, the interior of the Cadillac was flooded 
with mellow light. When I stepped inside, he wrapped a robe around 
my knees as skillfully as a trained nurse. I never wanted Williams to 
do this because there was an excellent heating system in the Cadillac 
and there was no need for a robe, but Helen liked the robe. Some- 
how Helen could adjust herself perfectly to unreality. 

There was a fragile white box in the car, tied with green cello- 
phane ribbons. 

"Where did that come from?" I asked. 

"It's some gardenias, sir, for Mrs. Skelton," Williams answered. 

"She didn't say anything about gardenias," I said. 

"Mr. Frary had them sent down," Williams said. "Shall we start 
home now, sir?" 

I had disliked the smell of gardenias ever since the time a large 
wreath of them had been placed around my neck by the Chamber of 
Commerce at Honolulu, but it was just like Gilbert to do such a 
thing. The gesture was what Gilbert called a grace note in human 
relationship. It always paid, he said, to do nice little things for 
people, and lately he had begun doing nice little things for people 
in my name without my knowing it. It was growing confusing to 
be thanked by comparative strangers for boxes of cigars, champagne 
and orchids, and now even Helen had begun making these little ges- 
tures. I leaned back in the car and closed my eyes, but I was not 
tired. I was not at all tired. 

On the contrary I was too much awake, too keenly aware of every- 
thing, and that telephone call of Dottie's had remained in my mind. 
We drove up Fifth Avenue and crossed the Park at Seventy-ninth 
Street on the way to the West Side Highway, and I began thinking 
again of Mel Goodwin and this episode in Berlin. He had done 
something which had a universal appeal, but I could not identify 
myself with Mel Goodwin. The instincts of a participant in such 

an action could only be explained in terms of conditioning and 

I thought of a bird dog named Mac that my uncle had owned 
once, a very steady Gordon setter. I could see myself as a young boy 
on Saturday afternoons in just such clear October weather as we 
were having now. Uncle Will suffered from arthritis but he still 
liked to go out for woodcock if he did not have to walk too far. 
He would ask me to go upstairs and get his twelve-gauge Parker 
shotgun. The gun was in the paneled closet by the big chimney, 
resting against the bricks beside Uncle Will's rubber boots and his 
canvas shooting coat. We would go out into the yard and back the 
Model T Ford out of the carriage shed. As soon as old Mac saw the 
gun he would run around the car in circles. For once he was going 
to participate in something useful, in something for which his whole 
species had been created, and when you came to think of it, very 
few individuals nowadays, dogs or humans, ever had much chance 
of doing the things for which they had been made. Pekingese, for 
instance, and men on production lines, and possibly even Williams 
driving the Cadillac, had probably forgotten their primary purpose 
years before. Everything was so complicated and possibilities were 
so limited that perhaps you never did have a chance of knowing 
what you were made for, but old Mac knew. He would jump into 
the back seat of the Ford and sit there waiting for us to start, never 
wriggling his head when I tied a bell to his collar. There was a good 
covert at Johnson's Brook. To get there you had to cross a pasture 
and climb a stone wall and then walk through the brambles. Mac 
did not have to be told to come to heel any more than I had to be 
told to walk behind Uncle Will. I could never forget the clear after- 
noon sunlight on the junipers and the subdued tinkle of Mac's bell 
and the gentle complaint of my uncle's voice, saying that the wood- 
cock flight was not what it used to be. Things were never what they 
used to be, as I was old enough now to know. 

Uncle Will always took his stand on a little rise just above the 
alders, because he was not good any longer at walking through 
brush. I would stand beside him and I remember the strange, pun- 
gent odor of the frostbitten asters that grew there and the way he 


would tell Mac to go on in. Mac would disappear in the thicket, 
running carefully, not missing anything, but we knew where he was 
by the tinkling of his bell. When the bell stopped, Uncle Will would 
send me after Mac. The bird when flushed would be fairly certain 
to appear above the alders, giving an opportunity for a quick shot, 
and this was all my uncle needed. I would always find the dog in 
the alders, frozen motionless, obeying an instinct of his breed, which 
had nothing whatsoever to do with animal survival. It was a be- 
havior pattern which must have evolved only after a few millen- 
nia of hunting with man. Mac always held his point patiently, tail 
straight and left foreleg raised, but at a word he would bound for- 
ward, and there would come that whirr of wings, always unexpected, 
even though we were ready for it. Then the shot would follow. Mac 
always seemed to know the exact point in the thicket where the bird 
would fall. It seldom took more than a minute for him to retrieve 
the woodcock, which he would bring back to my uncle proudly and 
gingerly, like a dog in an English hunting print, and again an in- 
stinct contrary to the primitive had taught him not to mar the bird 
or even to clamp his jaws too tightly upon it. He was a good dog, 
perfectly conditioned. 

So, I was thinking, was General Melville Goodwin. I had worn a 
uniform for a while but I possessed few of the soldier's instincts. If I 
had been present in that Berlin street scene, my first and perhaps my 
only reaction would have been one of curiosity. I should immediately 
have selected some point from which I could see everything. I should 
not have done this because of physical fear but rather because I was 
trained for observation, and it would never have occurred to me that 
any action of mine could have altered such a scene in any way. If 
the Russian officer had pointed his tommy gun at my middle, I 
would not have felt in my pocket for a cigarette, and certainly I 
would not have pushed his tommy gun away, either gently or 
briskly. My presence would have had no calming effect upon the 
officer. He would have shot me through the guts because I would 
have been expecting it. I could even feel the bullet ripping through 
me now. I could not have done these things because, unlike Mel 
Goodwin, I was a civilian, not a soldier, and I had the civilian's fal- 


lacious point of view that a peaceful environment continued to exist, 
even in a war. 

Until the year 1939, except for a rented room on Myrtle Street in 
Boston and considerably later a two-room walk-up on West Tenth 
Street in New York, I had never lived in a home of my own. If there 
had been anything that approached a home environment in my 
youth, it was the run-down farm which my Uncle Will had bought 
outside of Nashua, New Hampshire, when he had retired as man- 
ager of one of the smaller textile mills in that city. When I was in my 
teens I was there often, and the farm was always more of a home 
to me than the rented stucco house on Wilton Street in West New- 
ton where I lived as a child. We had looked on this anyway as noth- 
ing more than a temporary dwelling from which we would move to 
something better as soon as my father got further along in the in- 
surance business; so when my mother died and I had been boarded 
for a while with family friends, it was like home when I went to 
stay with my Uncle Will. When my father married again, he moved 
to Natick, and though my stepmother wished me to live there, too, 
there never seemed to be room for me in a new household in a new 
life with new children, and that element of security which child psy- 
chologists now consider of such importance was denied me. 

Nevertheless when I finished college and went to work on a 
Boston paper, I seemed to be no more insecure than anyone else in 
the city room, where security rested mainly on individual ability. 
Looking back, I seldom missed the solidity of home, and I never 
cared much about possessions. If I wanted pictures, I could see them 
in a museum. If I wanted books, there was always the public library. 
All I needed in those days were some suitcases, two suits of clothes 
and some ties, and a typewriter and some copy paper — and you 
could always get all the copy paper you wanted in the city room if 
you cared to write in your spare time. However, there was always a 
deadline somewhere, which permitted little opportunity for consid- 
ered contemplation or for a leisurely co-ordination of ideas. I never 
cared about food or gracious living in those days, because what I 
was doing was an adequate substitute, and even now, when I hear a 


linotype machine or smell that sweet pervasive odor of printer r s ink 
up in some composing room, my old contentment returns. 

I never cared what was in jewelers' windows or who rode in 
limousines, except in a purely academic way. I never thought se- 
riously of marriage or of the future but only of seeing all I could 
while I was alive. When I was on the Paris Bureau, it was easier to 
sit still than it had been in America, but I never wanted to buy any- 
thing even there, except possibly a few books from the stalls along 
the Seine. 

I returned to New York in 1939 after writing three magazine ar- 
ticles on the Middle East and I still did not care where I ate or slept 
until I married Helen. She was an assistant editor then on a home 
furnishings magazine, and her work had made her deeply conscious 
of decor. We rented four rooms on the third floor of a pretentious 
old dwelling in the West Fifties between Fifth and Sixth avenues. 
It was noisy but near to everything. Helen furnished the apartment 
with odds and ends from auction rooms and she was always re- 
arranging them. She was always saying that I would get used to 
them in time and that I was the most undomestic man she had ?ver 
known, but actually there had hardly been time for us even to get 
used to each other. Helen could never manage to get my clothes 
in order, and even when Camilla was born in the winter of 1940 and 
was moved into the back bedroom with her bottles and her bath- 
tub, we were still not used to the apartment. We left it in 1941, 
when I joined the army and Helen and Camilla went to live with 
Helen's parents in Delaware, and we never did have a home in the 
accepted sense until suddenly in the spring of 1949 we bought the 
place in Connecticut called Savin Hill. 

Helen had said we had to start living somewhere, instead of just 
subletting one Park Avenue apartment after another, and now that 
we could afford it we ought to think about Camilla and move to the 
country. Besides, Gilbert Frary felt we should consider the person- 
ality value of such a change. Helen and Camilla and I needed a gra- 
cious, welcoming home that would look like something — something 
solid, perhaps with horses. 

"Why horses?" I asked. 


Gilbert said that he had merely suggested horses because they had 
a social significance that built up personality. 

"Not that you haven't a lovely personality as it is, Sidney," he said, 
"but Helen knows what I mean." 

He meant that we must have roots somewhere that had a build-up 
value, and it ought to be Connecticut, not Long Island, because Long 
Island was rootless. He knew exactly the man who could find us 
such a place, he said, and larger country places were going beg- 
ging now, and most of the upkeep could come out of the expense 


I first saw the house that we now occupied one morning early in 
the previous spring. Helen woke me up at eight o'clock, which has 
always seemed to me an ungodly hour for starting a day — five or 
six if necessary, or else eleven-thirty, but never eight o'clock. 

"What's the matter, Helen?" I asked her. "Is it something about 


"Oh, Sid," Helen said, "please wake up. I want to get \hm so 
you can see it in the morning sunlight. There are crocuses all over 
the lawn along the drive — orange, white and purple crocuses- Do 
you remember the boy with the crocus on that frieze in the Palace of 

"What?" I asked her. 

"The boy with the crocus," Helen said. "You used to talk to me 
about him before we were married. It made me think you knew 
something about art. You were going to take me to Crete." 

"That's right," I said, "Crete." 

I had seen the mountains of Crete from the deck of an American 
Export liner on my way to Alexa^ria before the war, and I had 
always wanted to explore the Minoan ruins but I did not see how 
we could very well go there now with Camilla. 

"Please get up, Sid," Helen said, "and put on your tweed coat and 
your gray slacks. I do want you to see it when everything is fresh in 

the morning." 

"All right," I said, and I got out of bed. "Now just what is it we 

are going to see, Helen?" 
"I wish I ever knew whether you were being vague on purpose or 


because you can't help it," Helen said. "The place in Connecticut-^ 
I was telling you all about it last night. Remember?" 

The place in Connecticut had slipped my mind, because I had 
given it no careful thought. I had not been able seriously to envisage 
Helen or me in the country any more than I could envisage the new 
vistas that only recently had begun to stretch before us. 

We drove out, I remember, in the new Packard convertible with 
the top down. I still enjoyed the Packard because I had never owned 
anything larger than a Chevrolet until that year. The Packard han- 
dled beautifully on the Merritt Parkway, and Helen began talking 
about this place again. I mustn't be depressed by its general size, 
she said. She knew that it was hard to make new plans now that it 
was possible so suddenly to do so much. 

"Oh, Sid," Helen said, "I do wish sometimes you would let your- 
self go and try to be happy about everything." 

"I'm happy about most things," I told her, "but I can't seem to 
r elax like you." 

Of course there were a number of other people like us in New 
Yor 1 Hut Hollywood was where we should have been or some sim- 
ilar place where money was not exactly money. 

Savin Hill, from the first moment I saw it, was a sort of sword of 
Damocles for me. Day and night the spirit of Savin Hill hung over 
me by a thread, a perpetual reminder of the existence of material in- 
stability. The house had been built by a Mr. Edgar Winlock, who 
had died very suddenly from a coronary accident, and it was up for 
sale, furnished, to settle the estate. At least it was not a remodeled 
farmhouse. Instead, it was built along the lines of a Virginia plan- 
tation. A shaded avenue led up to it with fields resembling paddocks 
or pasture- on either side, enclosed by deceptively simple white board 
fences. The place was trying to look like a farm, but the driveway 
had a rolled tar surface. 

"You see, the Winlocks kept horses," Helen said. "There's a stable 
and a three-car garage." 

"My God, Helen," I began, but she stopped me. 

"We can afford it, Sid," she said. "Gilbert says we can" -she was 

2 3 

pathetically eager to have me like it- "and a couple and an upstairs 
maid can look after the house." She had learned all about such ar- 
rangements, of course, from playing around with the editors of 
fashion and home decoration magazines and from writing pieces 
about gracious living. Having me dressed in a tweed jacket and 
slacks was her idea of part of the decor, and it was just as well for 
both of us that Helen had some training. 

"All right," I said, "I'm Mr. Edgar Winlock. Do the horses come 
with it, Mrs. Winlock?" 

"I wish you wouldn't give up without a struggle," Helen said. "It 

isn't like you, Sid." 

The truth was that I could think of no fixed line of argument. It 
she really liked it, I told her, and if she thought she could run a place 
with a sunken garden and crocuses and a swimming pool, we would 

"Aren't you going to argue about it at all?" Helen asked. "Do 
you like the furniture? Of course, the living room ought to be in 
Chippendale, but still the Winlocks did have good taste." 

I wondered whether it was the Winlocks' taste or that of an inte- 
rior decorator. The living room was Louis Quinze, with a brilliant 
Aubusson carpet and a crystal chandelier - but Helen would change 
all that — and the dining room opened on a terrace that overlooked 
the swimming pool. I could face it all objectively, but not subjec- 
tively. I almost felt that I was a reporter again, visiting the estate for 
some professional purpose. 

"And here's the library," Helen said. "You can have the library." 

"Why, thanks a lot," I said. 

"And you can do it over any way you like." 

The trouble was I had never had an opportunity to develop any 
individual taste, and the last thing I wanted to do was to do some- 
thing over. 

"Sidney," Helen said, "don't you like the books?" 

I wondered whether Mr. Winlock had liked them. They looked 
to me like a wholesale acquisition from the library of an English 
county family -tooled leather sets of the British poets and the 
British novelists. 


"Isn't there a bar somewhere?" I asked. 

"No," Helen said, "this isn't Hollywood, but we could use the 
flower room and have it paneled." 

"Oh, no," I said, "I don't particularly want a bar." 

"Sidney," Helen said, "haven't you any suggestions at all?" 

"Why, no," I said. "I can't think of anything — except that there 
ought to be some place where I could do some writing." 

"You can do some writing in the library," Helen said. 

"Oh, yes," I said, "I had forgotten about the library." 

"Darling," Helen said, "don't you think it's about time you were 
housebroken ? Isn't it time we stopped camping out and had a home 
of our own?" 

Of course you had to start sometime, somewhere, having a home 
of your own, but I always felt as though I were camping out at Savin 
Hill. I could never entirely get rid of the idea that the Winlocks 
might come back. 

"I wonder if there is any shooting around here," I said. 

"Shooting?" Helen asked me. "Do you mean a war?" 

"No," I said, "game bird shooting with a shotgun." 

"What in heaven's name made you think of that?" Helen 

"Oh," I said, "I used to go out with my Uncle Will when he shot 
woodcock in New Hampshire. He had a dog named Mac." 

"I didn't know you liked dogs," Helen said. 

"I don't know whether I do or not," I told her. "I never had time 
to own one." 

"Well, darling," Helen said, "you have time to own one now, and 
Camilla ought to get used to dogs. We could get a poodle." 

"Why a poodle?" I asked. 

Before I had married Helen, and in fact until Camilla was born, 
I had always believed that I understood quite a lot about women. 
It had never occurred to me that women, including young mothers, 
would need more than a moderate amount of sympathetic personal 
attention. I had never considered those demands of security which I 
now know directly follow the excitements of childbirth. I did not 
understand that urge for building up something and for making a 


firm place for a child, but I was glad to give Helen Savin Hill if 
she wanted it. 

As the Cadillac turned into the black-topped driveway that Octo- 
ber evening, I had much the same feeling about the place that I had 
experienced in early spring when the Winlock executors had passed 
the papers. I was thinking, as Williams blew the horn and as the 
lights of the house became clear in front of us, of an advertisement 
for an expensive automobile which I must have seen before the war. 
It was entitled, "The Day That Took Years in the Making," and 
above the headline was a pretty picture of a nice middle-aged couple 
standing on a stair landing looking out of an arched window. The 
man, gray at the temples, appeared somewhat buffeted by life, but 
his wife beside him looked very, very happy and very, very proud. 
Outside on the drive stood a brand-new automobile with, if I am 
not mistaken, a Christmas wreath upon it — the apotheosis of the 
day that took years in the making. This couple, we were told, had 
moved shoulder to shoulder through the years, because he had faith 
in her and she had faith in him. First they had lived in a small bun- 
galow with a wretched automobile, then in a somewhat larger house 
with a passable car, because he had faith in her and she had faith in 
him, and today we could see the fruition of that faith. The Car 
was at the door. I remembered this advertisement because it was an 
almost flawless piece of materialism, and now here I was in a Cadil- 
lac, approaching the gracious landscaped entrance of Savin Hill. 
Yet the couple in the advertisement had some advantages over Helen 
and me. They had struggled upwards through economic gradations, 
whereas Helen and I had come cold on Savin Hill. 

When Williams blew the horn, the door opened as though the 
sound of the horn had released some electronic mechanism, and there 
was Oscar, the houseman, in the tan alpaca coat that Helen had se- 
lected for him. Oscar was smiling in his mannerly Swedish way. 
Williams handed him the box of gardenias and hastily but delicately 
pulled the robe from my knees as I began to struggle with it. 

"There has just been a telephone call for you, sir," Oscar said, 
"from Washington -they had your unlisted number -from the 
office of the Secretary of the Army." 


It seemed to me that Oscar might at least have waited until I had 
stepped indoors, but Oscar was always overhelpful. 

"Who was calling?" I asked. 

"It was a colonel, sir, a Colonel Flax," Oscar said, "from Public 
Relations. He asked for you to call him back the moment you came 
in. He said it was very urgent." 

Everything, I remembered, was always urgent around there, but I 
was not in the army any longer and I had never heard of Colonel 

"If he wants me badly enough, he can try me again," I said, and I 
dismissed the whole thing from my mind. Public Relations was al- 
ways after something, but I was not in the army any longer. 

"Are there any orders yet for tomorrow, sir?" Williams asked. It 
was nearly nine o'clock, and I wanted to think of the present, but 
Williams repeated his question very gently. 

"Well, I won't know about tomorrow," I said, "until I wake up 
tomorrow morning, but I'll tell you what you can do. Take it up 
with Mrs. Skelton, Williams. She'll probably have some sort of 

"Yes, sir," Williams said, "Mrs. Skelton was talking about Miss 
Camilla's going to a birthday party tomorrow afternoon if you 
weren't going to need me to take you anywhere." 

"Oh," I said, "can't Miss Otts drive her over in the station wagon?" 

"Miss Otts was going to New York for the day tomorrow," Oscar 
said. "That is why Madam thought that Williams could drive Miss 
Camilla, but if you need Williams, sir, why I could drive Miss 
Camilla in the station wagon. It is my afternoon off, but I would be 
pleased to help." 

It was cool outside the car, and the air was very clear. Even though 
we owned three cars and a pickup truck, these problems of trans- 
portation still persisted. 

"Whose birthday party is it?" I asked. 

"It's at the Jacksons', sir," Oscar said, "at half past four o'clock." 

I could not remember who the Jacksons were. 

"Well, well," I said, "you'd better take up the whole problem with 
Mrs. Skelton. Mrs. Skelton will fix it so Miss Camilla will get to 


that birthday party, and I'll tell you what I'd like, Oscar. How about 
getting me a Scotch and soda?" 

I was thinking that if Oscar wanted to be helpful, this might 
divert his mind into more useful channels. 

Helen had done the hallway over, and now it was green. The 
wrought-iron railing of the winding staircase was bronze green. The 
noiseless stair carpet was a deeper green, and on the wallpaper was 
a design of large plantain leaves. I had told Helen when she was 
finished with it that all we needed were a few bird calls and it would 
be a jungle. It had the same quiet quality as the rain forest around 
Belem, but then it was not raining, and Helen had never seen Belem. 
She was standing in the hall waiting for me and she looked very 
happy and very pretty. 

"Hi," I said. "How's everything going, Mrs. Winlock?" 
This was a joke which had worn pretty diin by now, as I saw 
by Helen's changed expression. 

"I am sorry," I said. "It just happened unintentionally," and I 
kissed her. 

"Darling," Helen said, "what did you have for supper?" 
"I don't remember," I said. "A glass of milk and a sandwich, I 
guess, just before I left." 

"Hilda can get you something hot in just a minute." 
"Oh, no," I said, "that's all right." 

"You sounded wonderful," Helen said. "Did you write it or did 
Art write it?" 

"Art wrote it," I said, "except the piece about my knowing that 
general. He didn't know I knew Mel Goodwin." 

"I didn't know you knew him either," Helen said, "but it sounded 
wonderful. Your voice was much better than last night." 

"That's good," I said. "George Burtheimer called up from Chicago. 
I thought it was corny about Mel Goodwin, but George liked it." 

"Why, darling," Helen said, "that's wonderful." Of course she 
knew what it meant, hearing from the sponsor. "Now you had better 
go up and see Camilla so she can get to sleep. She's in bed with a 
book waiting for you, and don't stay too long with her. She really 
ought to be asleep by nine." 


"All right," I said, "just as soon as Oscar brings me a drink." 

"Sid," Helen said, "do you always have to have a drink in your 
hand when you go upstairs to say good night to Camilla?" 

"Not always," I said. "I'm just feeling tired after a long day in the 

"Did you see anyone you knew?" Helen asked. 

"Yes," I said, "quite a lot of people. I had lunch with Bill Schultz. 
He's just back from London." 

"Oh," Helen said, "he's the one you worked with when you were 
on the Paris Bureau, isn't he?" 

There was no reason why Helen should have remembered him at 
all because he was a figure from the past that had nothing to do with 
Helen's and my life together. It always touched me that Helen was 
interested in my early struggles. 

"That's the one," I said. "You made quite an impression on him 
when we were living on Fifty-second Street." 

"I wish you wouldn't always conceal all your old friends," Helen 
said. "You have a place now where you can entertain them. Why 
don't you ask a lot of diem out some Sunday?" 

"It might be a good idea," I said, "some Sunday." 

"And even if they break something," Helen said, "I won't mind — 
as long as they don't leave burning cigarettes on tables." 

"Well, it might be a good idea," I said, "some Sunday." And then 
I saw Oscar carrying a highball glass on an Early American silver 

"Is that the Paul Revere tray?" I asked. 

"Yes it is," Helen said. "Now hurry, and don't let Camilla keep 
you too long. You know how she strings things out before she goes 
to sleep." 

I was just starting up the stairs when the telephone rang. I handed 
my glass back to Oscar and picked up the extension beneath the 
stairs in the hall. 

"Is this Mr. Sidney Skelton?" an operator was saying. "Just a 
minute please, Mr. Skelton." 

There was a buzzing on the line and nothing else. It seemed to me 
that if an operator finally caught you, you were always left hanging 


in space for just a minute. Helen was not even curious about the call, 
and I did not blame her. Oscar was standing patiently, holding my 
glass on its silver tray. We were all waiting for just a minute. 

"Is this Mr. Sidney Skelton?" It was a man's voice speaking this 
time, fresh, vibrant and young. 
"Yes," I answered, "this is still Mr. Sidney Skelton." 
"This is Captain Orde from the Secretary's office," the voice said. 
"I was asked to check to see if you'd returned home yet. Colonel 
Flax is most anxious to speak to you." 
"All right," I said, "put him on." 

"Unfortunately he has just stepped out for a few moments," the 
invisible captain said, "but he wanted me to check up to be sure you 
had returned home." 
"That's very thoughtful of him," I said. 
It was like the old days, listening to Captain Orde. 
"He wanted me to ask you please to wait until he returns," Cap- 
tain Orde said. "He is most anxious to speak to you on an urgent 
"All right," I answered, "when will he return?" 
"He was just called from his office a few moments ago on urgent 
business," Captain Orde said, "but he should return at any moment." 
"What does he want to talk to me about?" I asked. 
"I believe the subject deals with General Goodwin, sir," Captain 
Orde said, "Major General Melville A. Goodwin, but it would be 
better for you to hear of it from Colonel Flax personally. He will 
return at any time now." 

"Well, tell Colonel Flax to take his time," I said. "I won't run 
away from him. Good-by, Captain Orde." 
"What was that about?" Helen asked. 

"I really don't know," I told her, and I took my drink from Oscar. 
"You never can tell what's coming out of Washington." 

Colonel Flax was certainly most anxious to get me, even though 
he had stepped out temporarily. Someone higher up was obviously 
pushing Colonel Flax, but I did not see what I could tell him about 
General Melville Goodwin. It was time to go upstairs and say good 
night to Camilla. 


Miss Otts was in Camilla's sitting room reading a volume of Maria 
Edgeworth. She looked tweedy and natural beside Camilla's doll- 

"You should try Miss Edgeworth sometime, Mr. Skelton," Miss 
Otts said. 

"I read The Parent's Assistant once," I said. "My stepmother had 
it in Natick. There was a story about a little boy, wasn't there, with 
a piece of string?" 

"Oh, yes," Miss Otts said. " 'Waste not, want not.' " 

"Maybe it's not quite in tune with the present," I told her. 

Miss Otts laughed, comfortably far away in a world that was all 
her own. 

"That is why I like Miss Edgeworth," she said. 

Camilla was sitting straight up in bed reading Louisa M. Alcott's 
Little Women for the third time, and her black hair fell over her 
shoulders in two neat braids. I stood there for a moment adjusting 
myself to her. I could remember her in her crib, but I had been 
away so much that I was still surprised that Camilla could talk flu- 
ently or that she could have ideas. 

"Oh, Daddy," Camilla said, "you've got a drink." 

"You and your mother certainly notice it when I have one, 
Camilla," I said. I sat down on the edge of her bed and took an 
uneasy sip of the Scotch and soda and wondered what Camilla really 
thought of me. 

"I wish you'd shut the door," Camilla said. "You see, I don't want 
Miss Otts to overhear everything." 

"What's the matter with Miss Otts?" I asked. 

"Oh, she's all right," Camilla said, "but she talks in a funny 

"That's because she's English," I said. "She talks in a very nice 
way, Camilla." 7 

"You don't talk like her and neither does Mummy." 
"I know," I said, "but we ought to. What did you do at school 

"The same old things," Camilla said. 

"Well," I said, "maybe it's time for you to go to sleep." 

"No," Camilla said, and her voice was louder, "we haven't talked 
about anything." 
' "All right," I said, "what do you want to talk about?" 

"I don't know," Camilla said, "about anything, just talk." 

"Well, I don't know either," I said. "That's a nice school you 
go to, Camilla, and Miss Lancaster seemed very nice the time I 
saw her." 

"Let's talk about something else," Camilla said. "Talk about when 
you were a little boy." 

"Well, well," I said, "when I was a little boy . . ." 

Camilla's round gray-green eyes, just the color of her mother's, 
were fixed on me unblinkingly with that utterly uninhibited stare 
of childhood. I tried to see myself as she must have seen me, an 
almost complete stranger who could share not one of her interests. 
I was also trying to walk backwards into a land that was closed to 
me forever, and I was not a Eugene Field, who could bring to life 
a little toy soldier red with rust, or a Robert Louis Stevenson, who 
could climb up in a cherry tree to look abroad on foreign lands, but 
then perhaps those two great authorities could only recall childhood 
in an academic manner. On the other hand, Freud and Jung and all 
their disciples seemed familiar with the pitfalls and terrors of that 
land but with none of its beauties, and surely it had certain charms. 
I sat there in my daughter's bedroom studying its chintz curtains and 
the infantile wallpaper designed by some other professional who 
had forgotten about childhood, and I was very certain that Camilla 
was enduring my presence politely simply because my being there 
postponed the hour of her sleeping. 

"Well," I said, and my voice to my own ears sounded painfully 
sugary, "when I was a little boy I lived in West Newton." 

"Did you have a dog?" Camilla asked. 

"No," I said, "I didn't, but I did have a pair of roller skates." 

Somewhere in the distance, on the very edge of my imagination, 
the horns of elfland mingled with the loud metallic sound of those 
roller skates. 

"I wish I had some roller skates," Camilla said. 

Childhood was a time of perpetually unfulfilled desire, and if by 

3 2 

chance you finally attained something, immediately you wanted 
something else. 

"They aren't any good without a sidewalk," I told her. 

"I wish we had a sidewalk,'* Camilla said. 

"Well, we haven't," I told her. "It would look funny around here." 

We were both silent. I moved uneasily. It seemed to me that I had 
said everything that I could possibly say. 

"What else did you have?" Camilla asked. 

I tried to think what else I had. I had once possessed a sense of 
time which was completely gone. Once an hour had been like a day 
and minutes had been interminable, and now I had an impression 
again of dragging minutes. 

"Now let me think," I said. "What else did I have ? I had a pocket- 
knife. It had a chain on it and one end of the chain I could fasten 
on a button inside my trousers." 

"What sort of a button?" Camilla asked. 

She had completely broken my train of thought. "I don't remem- 
ber, Camilla, but there was a button somewhere." 

"What did your mother do about you when you went to bed?" 
Camilla asked. 

What did my mother do about me when I went to bed ? I could 
see my mother's face quite clearly. It had always looked drawn and 
pale in the evening, though I must have been completely oblivious 
to her worries. I had seen her once just as Camilla now saw me. 

"Well," I said, "she always made me wash." 

"Didn't your nurse wash you?" 

"No," I said, "there wasn't any nurse." 

"Didn't your mother hear you say your prayers?" 

"Yes," I said, "when she wasn't too tired. She wasn't very well.** 

"What did you say?" Camilla asked, "'Now I lay me,' or 'Our 

"I guess it was 'Our Father,' " I said. 

"All right," Camilla said, "then I'll say that one." 

"Wait a minute," I said. "Hasn't your mother heard your prav- 

"Yes," Camilla said, "but I didn't say that one." 


"Now wait a minute," I said, but Camilla did not wait. She was 
out of bed and kneeling beside me. Her pigtails made two straight 
lines on her flannelette pajamas. I wanted to tell her again to wait a 
minute, but she had started already. 

"Our Father who art in heaven . . ." she began, hastily, as though 
she might forget it all if she spoke too slowly. 

I should not have been sitting holding a highball glass while 
Camilla recited the Lord's Prayer, but when she was in bed again I 
felt somewhat relieved and rather pleased. I knew that Camilla was 
finished with me now, and somehow I was sure when I kissed her 
good night that I had behaved in a satisfactory manner, and the 
knowledge made me contented. 

"Daddy," she said, "I think Fm going to lose a tooth." 

"Well," I said, "that's fine, Camilla," and I thought of the last 
tooth I lost in West Newton two weeks before my mother's death, 
and no one had done anything about that tooth. 



And Mr. Gilbert Frary Has Another Good Suggestion 

Helen often said that I was the most unsure man she had ever 
known, and I often told her that with things going the way they 
were I didn't see why it was worth while attempting to be sure of 
anything except of eventual dissolution. Obviously this was not a 
constructive attitude, and I did not blame Helen for being annoyed 
by it, because I have often thought that women in general admire 
and need order more than men. They are pathetically sure of gen- 
eralities and pathetically certain that every game has an unchanging 
set of rules and that somewhere there is an answer to every problem. 

My own uncertainties usually amused rather than annoyed Helen. 
In fact she told me once that she had married me because I was so 
funny about so many things. It had occurred to me, however, during 
the war, that she might grow tired of me and write me a nice letter 
saying, as so many other wives had said, that it was all a mistake, 
and I was still very grateful that she had not, because I had reached 
a point where I could not possibly get on without her. There had 
been plenty of other men she could have married when she had been 
working on that high-bracket magazine. In fact she had been as 
good as engaged to a lawyer when I had first met her. 

It was at a cocktail party in one of those old brick houses down 
on Eighth Street, and I had thought when we stood together in a 
corner that it would all be over in a moment, that someone who was 
more her type would find her and take her away. She was an excep- 
tionally pretty girl with dark hair and fine features, and pretty girls 
in my experience had always expected too much of other people. 
I would have left her on general principles two minutes after we had 
been introduced if she had not asked me very quickly, and in what 


seemed to me a gauche way considering her pleasing appearance, 
whether I was doing anything for dinner. I told her that I appre- 
ciated her being kind to me but that she would only be bored be- 
cause I had never been able to get on well with pretty girls who 
worked on class magazines. 

"I wish you wouldn't hold my looks against me/' she said. 
I told her that I was not holding anything against her and that it 
was not her fault that her looks unsettled me, but that I was not a 
novelty or a suitable vehicle for escape. 

"It's nice to see someone who is so uncertain," she said. "It makes 
me feel absolutely safe." 

I was glad that she felt safe with me, I told her, as long as she 
wanted to feel that way, but I did not want her to think for an in- 
stant that my character needed changing or guidance. I, too, felt 
perfectly safe with her, because she would lose interest in a little 
while. There were so many men who had wanted to marry her that 
I always thought it would be temporary, even after we were married. 
I could not understand why she wanted to have children. I ex- 
plained to her that I was not a parental type and that it would 
be hard on children when she grew tired of the whole arrange- 

"Why don't you face facts?" she said. "Don't you know that if a 
girl loves someone, she wants to have a child by him? The first time 
I saw you, I wanted you to be the father of my children." 

I have never been able to understand the eccentricities of natural 
selection. When I thought of that cocktail party on Eighth Street, 
it seemed to me indecent that any such thought should have crossed 
the mind of such a pretty girl, and instead of flattering me, it 
alarmed me, since it showed how sure Helen was about everything. 
She had been sure that I was the man for her after looking me over 
for sixty seconds. She was sure that I would amount to something. 
She had estimated all my latent capabilities, or at least she said she 
had, and she was right. Helen was always right, theoretically. 

The house, the winding staircase, and Camilla in her pigtails, all 
proved her correctness, theoretically. So far she had been right as 
rain about everything. Yet as I crossed the hall that evening and en- 


tered the living room, many of my old uneasy thoughts returned. 

"Helen," I said. The living room was large enough so that I had 
to raise my voice. She seemed a long distance away, curled up on the 
corner of the davenport, looking at the fire. "Did you get those gar- 
denias that Gilbert Frary sent you?" 

"Yes," she said, "Oscar brought them." 

"I thought that was very kind and thoughtful of Gilbert. Didn't 
you?" I said. 

Helen began to laugh. Her feet were on the floor, and she stood 
up. She looked like a Pre-Raphaelite painting in a velvet gown that 
was neither a housecoat nor a negligee nor a dinner dress. I did not 
know the name for it, but surely Helen did. 

"Sid," she said, and she held out her arms to me, "you Ye awfully 
funny" — and all at once it was all funny, Helen and the house and 
everything. Holding Helen in my arms and kissing her had many 
obvious values, but I wondered whether she understood whatever it 
was in this encounter of our minds and bodies that made me want 
to laugh. There were still times, like the present, when I could not 
avoid the illusion that Helen and I had never recited marriage vows. 
She was so exactly what I had wanted that it seemed like a gay sort 
of interlude, an unexpected piece of good fortune that should be 
taken at the flood and remembered in drab days that were bound to 

I was funny and Helen and the whole room were funny. She had 
done the living room over largely, I imagine, because she had grown 
tired of hearing me refer to us as Mr. and Mrs. Winlock. She had 
understood what I meant, she said. She had disposed of the Louis 
Quinze furniture and the Aubusson carpet, because the house should 
be in our own taste. I was a little vague about our own taste because 
we had never been surrounded by any old possessions which might 
have reminded us of any other incarnations. Helen and I had never 
had anything but a few books and the silver-backed comb and brush 
upstairs in our dressing room, which her mother had given her 
when we were married. Now there were English drum tables and 
piecrust tables, and heavy curtains called toile de Jouy drawn across 
the tall windows, and the strange thing about it was that the room 


actually looked as though we lived in it instead of looking, as I 
thought it would, like one of those period rooms in the Metropolitan 
Museum. I never could understand how Helen had achieved this 

As far as I could see, her background did not fit her for her pres- 
ent efforts any better than my own. When I had known Helen first, 
she had shared a two-room apartment in New York with a heavy, 
red-faced girl whom she had known at Bryn Mawr, and they had 
cooked casserole dishes on a hot plate in the bathroom. There was 
nothing in her home environment either that could account for her 
decorative skill unless it was revolt. 

The house occupied by her parents in Wilmington, Delaware, was 
a smallish brick structure in one of those blocks to the west of the 
Du Pont Hotel. It had been constructed near the turn of the cen- 
tury, before everyone connected with the Du Pont Company had 
found it advisable to move farther into the country. Helens father 
had not been connected with the Du Pont Company, and neither had 
her brother, and now they were not connected with anything at all 
except with Helen and me. I remembered my first glimpse of their 
house on the occasion when Helen introduced me to her family in 
Wilmington. I remembered the gas fixtures wired for electricity and 
the narrow dark front hall in which there stood a combination hat 
rack and umbrella stand of golden oak with a mirror at its back 
and a commodelike seat that you lifted up for rubbers. I remembered 
the golden oak balustrade and the crimson stair carpet with Paris 
green leaves upon it and the golden oak of the sitting room and din- 
ing room and the two Tiffany lamps, also wired like the chandeliers 
for electricity. There was even, believe it or not, a china cuspidor 
decorated with glazed roses in the parlor by a rubber tree. Nothing 
about that house in Delaware afforded an explanation for Helen's 
ability to cope successfully with her present surroundings. She would 
have been a very good adventuress. In fact, perhaps she was an ad- 

"What did you and Camilla talk about?" she asked. 

"About when I was a little boy," I said, "and then she said her 


"But she had said them already. I always hear her prayers." 
"Well, she repeated them," I said. "Lots of people do, now that I 
think of it." 

"Darling," Helen said, "I wish you would look more natural 
Why don't you ring for Oscar and get your slippers and your smok- 
ing jacket?" 

Helen had been trying in various ways for a long while to get me 
into that smoking jacket. It was a wine-colored velvet garment with 
quilted cuffs and lapels which she had bought for me shortly after 
she had done over the room. 

"Well," I said, because I did not want to hurt her feelings, "all 
right, Helen, I'll settle for the smoking jacket but not the slippers. 
Why do you think it makes me look natural?" 

"It doesn't," Helen said, "but it ought to," and she looked at me 
although she were doing me over. "It might if you kept wearing 

I did not ring for Oscar to bring me the smoking jacket and I don't 
believe that Helen expected that I would. One of the best things 
about her was that she was never nagging or insistent. I was never 
conscious of any sense of struggle or any battle between the sexes 
when Helen and I were alone together. Instead of ringing for Oscar 
I picked up a copy of the New Yor\ Times, unbuttoned my double- 
breasted coat and loosened my tie and sat down at one end of the 
davenport. Helen picked up the piece of petit point embroidery on 
wh,ch she had been working. There was no sound in the room but 
the occasional snapping of the oak logs in the fireplace at which we 
would both look up simultaneously to be sure that no spark fell on 
the beautiful round hooked rug which Helen had bought from some 
deceased collector's collection. Then we would look back again, I 
to the last paragraph of the lead editorial of the New Yor{ Times 
on the British monetary situation, and Helen to her embroidery, but 
neither of us would speak. Helen had always understood the value 
of silence. 

Somewhere down the hall I heard the gentle opening and closing 
or a door. 

"What's that?" I asked. 


"Oh," Helen said, "it's Oscar sending in Farouche to say good 

night." , L 

Farouche was the gray poodle that Helen had bought because, as 
she said, I had spoken about a dog, and she had always wanted a 
poodle. Farouche was trimmed in the modern Airedale manner, and 
the fur on top o£ his cranium was tied together by a fresh red bow. 
Nevertheless Farouche did not look silly. He entered the room in a 
dignified manner without bouncing or slobbering, carrying a rubber 
ring in his mouth. He glanced at us both, pleasantly and expectantly, 
and assumed an alert sitting position in front of us. 
"Hello, Farouche, darling," Helen said. 
Farouche edged nearer, still holding his rubber ring. 
"Aren't you going to play with him?" Helen asked. 
Farouche had a one-track mind, and the ring was his obsession. 
When I got up from the davenport and approached him, he dropped 
it carelessly, but he always snatched it again before I could pick it 
up, and he was delighted by my clumsiness. In the end, Farouche 
was very generous with me. He deliberately allowed me to get 
the ring so that I could toss it across the room. I was very glad to 
do so because it gave Farouche great pleasure, but I could not 
go on with this indefinitely, and Farouche understood when I was 


"He's very gracious tonight," I said, "and I like his new bow. 
"He isn't gracious;' Helen said. "He loves us. Don't you love us, 


I never understood why people take a dog's love for granted. 
Farouche's mind was on his rubber ring. He knew that I had given 
up, but there was always hope that I would try to snatch his ring 


"My God," I said, "we seem to be a long way from anywhere 


Helen looked up at me quickly, but she did not give the appear- 
ance of adjusting herself patiently to one of my moods. 

"Where's anywhere?" she asked. 

"Anywhere is where we used to be," I said. 

Helen raised her eyebrows and smiled. 


"You always used to say you didn't care where you were," she said. 

"That's true," I said, "but that's when I was anywhere, not some- 

"Darling, what got your mind on this?" Helen said. "You were 
just playing with Farouche." 

"That's exactly it," I said. "I never thought I'd own a poodle with 
a bowknot on his head." 

"He doesn't have to wear a ribbon." 

"Even without a ribbon," I said, "even with a crew cut." 

"I wish you wouldn't try to make him into a symbol," Helen said. 
"Don't you like him?" 

Of course, I said, I liked him. I had not intended to discuss any 
phases of our life together, but there we were. Helen was sitting 
up straighter and she was speaking more carefully. 

"Well, darling," she said, "you got us here. I didn't. We ought to 
put that on the record, and we have to be somewhere like this." 

"All right," I said. "I know. It just happened, but I can't help 
feeling queer." 

"Now, Sid," Helen said, "of course we're strangers here and we're 
new, but all the neighbors have come to call on us. They're all very 
nice, and we're being taken into the Country Club." 

"They're all different," I said. 

Farouche picked up his rubber ring and edged closer to me. 

"Darling," Helen said, and there was a catch in her voice, "don't 
you like anything you're doing?" 

It was impossible to answer yes or no to her question. There were 
aspects to the radio program that I did not like at all, but there were 
also compensating factors. I liked to use my editorial judgment on 
Art's script and to work myself over the dispatches from the news- 
room, but at the same time I hated the show business side of it. 
I did not like having been discovered and turned suddenly into an 
overnight wonder like a Hollywood star. I could laugh with my 
old friends about my situation and they could laugh back, but it was 
not the old give-and-take of other days. There was always bound 
to be that element of envy which one cannot help feeling toward 

4 1 

some contemporary who has suddenly hit the jackpot. It was un- 
comfortable being accidentally successful for no sound or adequate 


"I like it all right," I said, "as long as I know what I'm doing, but 
let's not try to fool ourselves." 

"It makes me awfully angry when you take that point of view," 
Helen began, "and start running yourself down." 

"It's all right," I said, "as long as you just admit there's money in 
it, and you don't try to make me think I'm an artist. We're just two 
people trying to get along." 

"Well, it only takes you a few minutes every evening," she said, 

"and you were wonderful tonight." 

"That's the way to look at it," I said. "Just a few mad minutes." 

"Darling," Helen said, "whatever you do, you're wonderful, and 

I like being a long way from anywhere as long as you're around." 

"All right," I said, "only let me know when you're tired — that's 

all." And I kissed her. 

There was a cough in the hall. It was Oscar, who was always dis- 
creet. I always felt like a guest when he coughed. 
"Hello," I said. "What's the problem, Oscar?" 
"I came to take Farouche to bed, sir," Oscar said, "and there's the 
same gentleman on the telephone again from Washington, a Colonel 
Flax, Colonel Edward Flax." 

It took me a moment to remember the urgent call from Wash- 

"He's from the office of Army Public Relations," Oscar said. 
A number of telephone extensions in the house left me a wide 
choice as to where I could best talk to Colonel Flax, whether in the 
hall, the library, or the office where Art and the studio staff worked 
whenever we prepared the script in the country. 

"Don't you want me to take the message for you?" Helen asked. 
She was always convinced that I would bungle any conversation on 
the telephone. 
"Oh, no, I'll speak to him," I said. "I'll take it in the library." 
"Well, don't let him make you do something you don't want to 
do," Helen said. "You never can say no over the telephone." 

4 2 

Oscar and Farouche accompanied me to that room of my own, 
the library. The telephone stood on the tooled-leather surface of the 
Old English desk on which I was to do some writing some day and 
on which the microphones were set up when I went on the air at 
home. I walked across to it as gingerly as though I were apologetically 
taking a call in someone else's house. I was still sure that I did not 
know anyone named Flax and I could not imagine why anyone 
should want to talk to me about Melville Goodwin at ten o'clock at 
night. Consequently I used my best voice, full of the integrity that 
Gilbert Frary so greatly admired. 

"Hello," I said. "This is Mr. Skelton speaking." 

I was answered by a worried voice which I could place as belong- 
ing to someone accustomed to giving orders and who, instead, was 
obliged to be ingratiating. 

"Good evening, Mr. Skelton. This is Colonel Flax. I am sorry to 
trouble you so late at night. Fm in Public Relations at the Pen- 
tagon — General Todd's office — your former chief." 

"Oh, yes," I said. 

People invariably felt that it built them up to say that they were 
speaking from the Pentagon, and I had to admit I had done the 
same thing often enough myself when I was in there during the war. 

"The General would have called you himself," Colonel Flax said, 
" — he was anxious to speak to you personally — but unfortunately 
he is delivering an address before the American Legion tonight. He 
did want me, though, to send you his warmest regards. He speaks 
of you very often and about the old days in Paris." 

"Well, now, that's very kind of him," I said. "If you happen to 
think of it, tell the General I think of him often, too. I hope he 
doesn't still suffer from indigestion." 

I looked at the leather-bound rows of British novelists and poets 
in front of me. I did think of the General sometimes, largely because 
he had not been good at Public Relations. He had come from the 
Point at a time when no one had ever heard of Public Relations. 

"He brought up your name himself this evening," Colonel Flax 
said. "When we were in conference with the Secretary, a certain mat- 
ter came up, and it was the General's idea, in which the Secretary 


concurred, that it ought to be handled informally. I imagine you can 
guess what it is, Mr. Skelton. We don't want to pull too many 
strings from here, and the General was wondering, and the Secre- 
tary concurred, whether, because of your former connection and your 
fine record in the service and your continued interest in the army and 
also because of your closeness to General Melville Goodwin — er — 
whether you couldn't help out personally on a little job of work, 
nothing difficult, you understand, but informal. I wish I could talk to 
you personally and not over the telephone. If it's agreeable to you, I 
can come up to New York the first thing in the morning." 

The colonel was speaking with an anxiety which communicated 
itself to me. In spite of my distance from the Pentagon, I could tell 
that there would be trouble for the colonel if he did not get what he 

"Well," I said, speaking with integrity, "all these things you say 
make me feel very happy. You're right — I have a warm spot in my 
heart for the army. I shall always feel I owe a great deal to my war 
experience. But exactly what is it that the General wants me to do 
for you?" 

"Well, frankly," Colonel Flax said, "it's about Major General 
Goodwin. You've been in here with us so that you can understand, 
in view of recent news, that he presents a public relations problem 
that must be handled in just the right way. We're right in here carry- 
ing the ball, and we don't want to muff it, and since the war — 
quite frankly, the personnel here isn't what it was during the war." 

"You mean there isn't the same old versatility?" I said. 

The colonel laughed as though we were old cronies sharing a sly, 
delightful joke. "That's exactly what I mean," he said. "We haven't 
the same old first team any more. They're all with the Air Force and 
the Marines, and this time the Ground Forces are carrying the ball, 
and we need a touchdown." 

The colonel's voice ended on a ringing note, and without seeing 
Colonel Flax I already knew everything about him. 

"All right," I said, "but I still don't know why General Goodwin's 
a problem." 

"This incident in Berlin," the colonel said, "and the way the whole 


picture is placed before the public. General Goodwin's flying back to 
the States tonight for press interviews and possibly for reassignment. 
He'll be in Washington tomorrow morning to report at the Penta- 
gon, but we are planning to send him up to New York directly. He 
should be at Mitchel Field at two tomorrow afternoon." 

It was a break for the army, with the Congress in session and with 
appropriations coming up, and it was natural that they should want 
to use the Goodwin episode for all it was worth, Colonel Flax was 
saying. There was a fine play already, and the news magazines wanted 
a definitive story. The General was a new personality, if I saw what 
he meant. 

"We don't want him to say the wrong thing," Colonel Flax was 
saying. "We want someone to handle him, and we know how well 
you've handled a lot of the VIPs over in the ETO. If you could just 
manage to be with him to give him a little good advice, especially 
after those fine things you said about him in your broadcast tonight. 
His wife is riding up with him from Washington and all the sound 
reels will be there. We don't want him saying the wrong thing to 
those news magazines. In the conference it was suggested that you 
might be willing to meet him at Mitchel." 

It all went to show what might happen if you spoke rashly on the 
air. Suddenly, because of a bright thought of mine that evening, I 
was the old friend of Melville Goodwin, the GI's general, right in 
there with him pitching. 

"Before going to you direct," the colonel was saying, "we got in 
touch with the broadcasting company and we've been talking to 
Mr. Gilbert Frary, who concurs in the idea of your meeting General 
Goodwin at the field." 

"Now, just a minute," I began. "I haven't heard from Mr. Frary." 

"He said he would call you personally," Colonel Flax went on, 
"and he has another good suggestion if you will concur in it. 
He suggests that you ask General and Mrs. Goodwin to be your 
guests for a day or two at your home in Connecticut. He seemed 
sure that you would be glad to have them, because of your friend- 

I looked up from the telephone to find that Helen had entered the 


library, and from her expression I was sure that she had been listen- 
ing over some extension. 

"Now just a minute," I said. "I haven't heard a word from Mr. 
Frary, and I'm too busy tomorrow to go to Mitchel Field." 

There was a deflated silence, and I wished that Gilbert Frary 
would mind his own business — but perhaps it was his own busi- 
ness, since it was as necessary for me as it was for General Goodwin 
to be a seven days' wonder. 

"I'll send my car for him," I said, "and if they're going to do a 
definitive piece about him, they can come out and work on it here, 
but I'm not going to meet him at Mitchel Field." 

"Tell him you don't want them here either," Helen whispered. 
"You're sure you can't change your mind?" Colonel Flax was 
"Yes," I said, "Fm sure. But I'm sure that Mr. Frary will be there." 
I should have said that I would have nothing to do with it. It was 
weak-minded of me, but I had begun to feel sorry for General Mel- 
ville Goodwin, not that I knew him at all well, or that I had ever felt 
sorry for him previously. 

"There you are," Helen said. "You let yourself in for something 
invariably every time you go to the telephone." 
"So do you, almost invariably," I said. 

"Now, Sid," she answered, "there was no earthly reason for you 
to ask him up here. At least you could have asked him without his 

"Now, Helen, you were just saying that I never ask any of my old 

friends up here," I told her. "Nothing's too good for old Mel, 

and I know you'll love him, and besides, I know Gilbert will 

like it." 

"Fm getting pretty sick of doing things because Gilbert will like 

it," Helen said. 

Before I could answer, Oscar had opened the library door. 

"Don't tell me. I can guess," I said. "It's Mr. Frary on the tele- 
phone," and I smiled at Helen. "You'd better go back and listen in 
the hall." 

There was no one more adequate in telephone conversations than 


Gilbert. It always gave him inordinate pleasure to be chatting with 
the Coast or arranging calls with the overseas operator, and he was 
never bothered by the expense. 

"How is everything in Connecticut, Sid?" he asked. "Settling 
down comfortably for a quiet night, I hope?" 

"It's delightfully comfortable out here, Gilbert," I said. "You can 
hear a pin drop at any odd minute." 

"Ha, ha," Gilbert said. "If you drop one, tell Helen to pick it up 
and all that day you'll have good luck, as the old adage goes." 

"Maybe you don't have good luck at night," I said. "It doesn't say 
anything about night." 

"Any home with the graciousness of yours and Helen's will have 
good luck day or night, I'm sure," Gilbert said. 

"That's sweet of you to say so, Gilbert," I answered. "And Helen 
loved the gardenias. They came as a complete surprise." 

"They were but nothing," Gilbert said, "but it did seem to me that 
fresh flowers in the country . . . Oh, by the way, Sid, to be serious 
for a moment, did an army officer from Public Relations at the 
Pentagon get in touch with you about that general, General 
."That's right," I said, "he's just been on the wire." 

"Well, I thought he had some rather good suggestions, didn't you ? 
Not that you don't know more about these things than I do, having 
served with the army yourself overseas. I told him you had great 
loyalty to old associations." 

"That's right," I said, "loyalty." 

"I knew we'd see eye to eye," Gilbert said. "Then you'll be down 
at the airport and I'll have flowers from you for Mrs. Goodman, and 
perhaps you can think of some slightly comical favor for General 
Goodman, something that will look amusing in a picture." 

"What's that?" I asked, and I was fascinated. "You want me to 
give him something?" 

"Just something for a gag, Sid, that will look well in front of the 
cameras and the newsreel. I was depending on your own imagina- 
tion, but how would a floral hammer and sickle be, or maybe perhaps 
you present him with a tommy gun, muzzle foremost, something 


with a laugh to lighten up the newsreels, Sid, and to give you the 


Gilbert's mind was never at rest, and I enjoyed so much hearing 
him run on that I hated to topple over his house of cards. 

"Now, Gilbert," I said, "let's quiet down. I'm not going to Mitchel 


"Now, Sidney," Gilbert said, "I appreciate your reaction perfectly, 
but before deciding definitely, please give it a second thought. It may 
be better to have the ceremony somewhat more dignified and impres- 
sive, such as a simple frank handclasp and a word or two. I will with- 
draw the gag gift idea -but I do feel, without the slightest am- 
biguity, that this is all a real build-up for the program, and I know 
that George will approve of it. He always attends the newsreels, and 
if Helen can't make it, I know there will be another lovely lady 


"Who?" I asked. "The General's wife?" 

"No, no, Sid," Gilbert said, "but you know who — someone in 
your past and General Goodman's past. You know who." 

"Goodwin!" I said. "Not Goodman — Goodwin." 

"I wish I had your sharp-etched memory, Sidney," Gilbert said. 
"I've been talking about General Goodwin with someone who is in- 
tensely interested in him. You know who." 

"Don't make me guess," I said. "Who is it?" 

"Now, Sid," Gilbert said, "don't be so ambiguous. It's Dottie 
Peale, Sidney. She called me after you left the studio. She guessed 
they would be sending for the General. There's no one with Dottie's 
public relations sense. She's the one who thought about the gag pres- 
ent. She'll be at the airport, too, and Dottie's still photogenic, the 

Gilbert's thoughts were of! again, and it seemed a pity to stop 

them. t 

"Listen, Gilbert," I said, "I'm not going to t* there, but I wouldn t 

have Dottie either if Mrs. Goodwin is coming." 
"Oh-oh," Gilbert said. "Oh-oh — does that convey an implication, 

"You put it very nicely, Gilbert," I said. 


''I cannot see how I was so inopportune," Gilbert said. "You mean 
he's seriously that way about Dottie?" 

"He was the last time I saw him," I said, "but he was under strain, 
Gilbert; we were all under strain." 

"Oh-oh," Gilbert said. "I love the way you put things, Sidney — so 
completely devoid of ambiguity." 

"All right," I said, "how about our going to sleep now, Gilbert? 
I'm not going to the field, but I'm sending for him. I'm asking him 
to stay here." 

"I wish I had your restrained taste, Sidney," Gilbert said, "yours 
and Helen's. I can see that will be better. The gesture has so much 
more integrity, and you can broadcast from your library tomorrow 
night with the General beside you, and some photographs." 
"You'll come, too, won't you, Gilbert?" I said. 
Gilbert's mind was working again in a new channel. It was going 
to be quite a party, a warm, intimate party — two old friends meet- 
ing after the wars. 

"And whoever is doing the definitive news story, it would be gra- 
cious to ask him to do it in your home, don't you think?" Gilbert 
said. "We mustn't have any slip-up. I'll arrange the whole thing, 
Sidney, and I'll call Helen in the morning. It will all be studio ex- 
pense. Tell Helen not to worry." 
I looked up to discover that Helen was still in the library. 
"Helen won't worry," I said. "Helen loves parties. Call us in the 
morning. Good night, Gilbert." 
Helen stood scowling at me, and I laughed. 
"Let's go back and toss rings to Farouche," I said. 
"I don't see what you think is so funny," she said. "What are you 
laughing at?" 

^ About the General," I said, "my old close friend, Mel Goodwin." 
"Sid," Helen said, "you never told me about the General and 

Dottie Peale. Was it that time you took all those writers and people 

over in a plane?" 

"Yes," I said, "it was that time, but it doesn't amount to anything, 
Helen. You know Dottie Peale." 
"Well, as long as it was the General and not you," Helen said. 


At least she was no longer worried about the party, and the eve- 
ning was over and it was time to put out the lights downstairs, and 
once again you could almost hear a pin drop. 

"Helen," I told her, "don't forget that Dottie gave Camilla Little 



If Necessary, She Would Have Done Very Well 
in Iceland 

Now that I had become so suddenly the old friend and host of 
General Melville Goodwin, I began to be acutely conscious of the 
commercial side of the transaction. I had started by being amused — 
and it was best always to be amused by such things — but now a 
sensitivity, of which I could never get rid, gave me a faint distaste 
for all that shoddy contriving. I felt ashamed that I should have to 
defer to anyone like Gilbert, and I wished that I were not so facile 
or so dependent on tawdry artificiality. I thought of sitting on Ca- 
milla's bed with my Scotch and soda. I thought of my integrity. It was 
getting shopworn and so were my old friends and so were my ambi- 
tions. All at once I felt as weary as King Solomon when he wrote 
Ecclesiastes and besought his readers to remember their Creator in 
the days of their youth before the years came in which they took no 

"Sid," Helen asked me, "what's the matter?" 

"Nothing's the matter. I was just thinking, Helen." 

"What were you thinking about?" 

"Oh, this and that," I said. "I was just thinking that life makes 
almost everyone into something that he never exactly wanted to be, 
and then the time comes when he can't very well be anything else." 

"But you never knew what you wanted to be." 

"That's right," I said. "I never gave it much attention — but look 
at General Goodwin. Everything's closing in on him, except he prob- 
ably hasn't the introspection to realize it." 

"You're just talking in circles again," Helen said, but as she went 
upstairs she must have been thinking about General Goodwin, too. 


"Don't start worrying about the lights. Oscar always puts them out. 
Don't you remember? Now come upstairs and tell me about Dot- 
tie Peale and the General, and don't be delicate about it, and don't 
think I'm worried about Dottie. You're always so funny when 
you think I'm worried about Dottie. I'm only jealous of her for 
just one thing. 1 wish I had known you as long as she has." 
"If you had," I told her, "you wouldn't like me any more than she 

"But you liked each other once," Helen said. 
I had first met Dottie when she was make-up girl for the special- 
feature pages, and we had seen a lot of each other when we both 
worked down on Park Row. Right from the start Dottie had been an 
ambitious girl, who knew exactly what she wanted, and it did not 
take her long to find that I did not answer her requirements. She 
wanted an older man, in those days, with money and sophistication 
She also wanted power, and the combination of these desires afforded 
the best explanation for her marriage to Henry Peale, the publisher, 
a few weeks after I left to join the Paris Bureau. Henry was very 
sweet, she said when I had dinner at their enormous house in the 
East Seventies the first time I came back from Paris. Henry was very 
<weet, but he needed his night's rest in order to face his problems in 
the morning. Henry would not mind at all our going out somewhere 
and dancing, and Henry could find something better for me to do 
than rattling around in the Paris Bureau. It was time I settled down 
and did something serious, and she would have a talk with Henry 
about me in the morning, and after we had got back to Seventy- 
second Street at two o'clock in the morning, she knew that Henry 
would not mind my kissing her good night because Henry knew 
that we knew each other so well -almost like brother and sister - 
well, not quite like brother and sister, but almost. 

"Sid," Helen said again when we were upstairs, "what was it about 
Dottie Peale and the General ? " 

"I think Dottie was a little bored," I said, "and Dottie learned how 
to get on terribly well with generals." 

It was a long story, one of those rather mechanized sagas that arise 
out of too much living, but Helen wanted to hear it all, and I was 

still telling her about it long after the lights were out in the largest 
master bedroom at Savin Hill. 

In February 1945 I had been obliged to cross the Atlantic with 
Dottie and a peculiarly ill-assorted group of literary and publishing 
geniuses in an Army G-54. The idea was undoubtedly part of the 
program to make the Ground Forces popular, but I never knew who 
thought up this particular stunt or why I should have been sent back 
to Washington from the European Theater of Operations to take 
those people over; but obviously someone must have suggested to 
some high and publicity-conscious source that a group of writers who 
represented the arts, not the papers, ought to see at first hand what 
the war was about in order to appreciate the effort that the Ground 
Forces, not the Air Force or the Navy, were making to win the war. 
The idea had obviously received very high endorsement, either from 
somewhere in the Chief of Staff's office or that of the Secretary, be- 
cause the whole trip had been given every possible clearance. Besides, 
the Air Force had pulled off such a trip already, and there was no 
reason why the Air Force should grab everything in Public Relations. 
The Ground Forces needed Public Relations, too. Hemingway had 
been a combat correspondent, but it was about time that other novel- 
ists, poets and playwrights should understand that the Infantry was 
the key to ultimate victory. 

There was at this period a belief, quite conceivably correct, that 
there were so many short stories and articles about flyers, Marines, 
and the Navy that the Infantry was being forgotten to the detriment 
of its morale. Near the front there was always a pathetic realization 
that no one at home faced the truth in spite of military artists, news- 
reels, documentary films, war histories, and combat reporters. In ad- 
dition, there must have been the discovery that nobody who could 
write was allowed to approach the combat areas because of age and 
decrepitude. There was no reason at all, with the Air Transport 
Command what it was, why a really distinguished group of indi- 
viduals, including men and women, should not be comfortably trans- 
ported to the theater of operations and there meet face to face the 
leaders who could brief them on what was going on and who could 
arrange illuminating side trips to the front and the devastated areas. 


The net result of such a trip would be in the nature of a long-term 
investment and one of great potential value, since out of it might 
emerge another Red Badge of Courage or another play comparable 
to What Price Glory. 

The whole project had been completely set up by the time I was 
ordered to Washington from the ETO, and the lieutenant colonel in 
charge had already arranged the itinerary and suitable accommoda- 
tions for all the Very Important People, and a timetable down to the 
last minute, with dinners, cocktail parties and receptions. The com- 
mands where we stopped would be responsible for the smooth run- 
ning of all arrangements, so that I had to act as nothing more than 
liaison, and if successful, this would be the model for other similar 
expeditions. It was not the colonel's business to consider that a lot of 
temperamental literary and artistic figures might waste the time of a 
lot of people who might be better occupied with finishing up the 
war, and it was not my business to tell him. 

"We want someone who understands this type of individual," the 
colonel told me, "and that's why you're here, Major. You'll leave with 
the party tomorrow morning, and your orders are to keep every- 
body happy and reassured. Explain things to them. Smooth over the 
rough places. Use tact and personality and always see to it that every- 
one gets what he or she wants. I can't possibly give you any definite 
orders except that you'll see that everyone has a wonderful time, 
Major — and if anything goes wrong, improvise. There will be a case 
of Scotch aboard — you had better look after the Scotch — and there's 
a fine crew on the plane." 

"You mean I'm going over as a sort of cruise director?" I asked. 

He was a civilian colonel, and one did not have to be as careful 
with high-ranking civilian officers. 

I did not like any of it because I could foresee all sorts of areas of 
trouble, and I was particularly unimpressed by the Very Important 
People who had been rounded up for the tour. These consisted of 
two male novelists of whom I had never heard, three female novel- 
ists, a short-story writer, two motion-picture scenario writers who 
called themselves dramatists and some publishers and subeditors of 
magazines. I was introduced to them all by the colonel at a cocktail 


party given at a Washington hotel by Army Public Relations, and 
they all looked self-conscious and strained now that they were on 
the threshold of the Great Adventure. I was so busy trying to remem- 
ber each name and face and trying also to appear kindly and official, 
and above all as though I were used to this sort of thing, that I was 
not in the least prepared to meet Dottie Peale. I had written her 
when Henry Peale died, but I had not seen her since the beginning 
of the war. She was wearing a very smart twill traveling suit, and 
she had the cryptically bored look that she always assumed when she 
was out of her element. She was drinking a double Martini cocktail, 
which I was quite sure was her second one, not that Dottie could 
not handle liquor. 

"Why, darling!" Dottie said. "What the hell are you doing here?" 

I explained my assignment and I thought she was going to kiss 
me, but she must have decided it was not the time or place. 

"Thank God you're going with us," she said. "You look wonder- 
ful, darling. Oh God, you look wonderful. Who are all these dread- 
ful people?" 

"You ought to know," I said. "You've been playing around with 
them longer than I have, Dot." 

"Darling, I'm so mortified," she said. "I understood when I ac- 
cepted the invitation that at least there would be Names and not just 
a list. There isn't anybody in the crowd I want to be killed with ex- 
cept you. Please get me another drink." 

"You're not going to be killed, Dot," I told her. 

"I have an intuition," she said. "That is — it's a premonition, isn't 
it ? It's been growing on me, Sid, all afternoon. Not that I'm afraid. 
I'm perfectly glad to die." 

"Well, that's swell," I said. "If it happens, it will all be over very 

"Sid," she asked, "on the plane — will you sit beside me?" 

"Some of the time," I said, "but I'm a cruise director." 

"Darling," she said, "you do look wonderful in a uniform. How's 

"She's fine," I said. "She and Camilla are in Wilmington." 

"Are you happy with her?" 


"Why, yes, up to the present," I said, and she smiled at me as 
though she were sure I could not be happy with Helen. She smiled 
wistfully and very understanding^ now that we were facing even- 
tual dissolution together on our way to the Great Adventure. 
"Sid," she said, "I wonder if you're thinking what I'm thinking." 
"I wouldn't know," I said, "unless I knew what you're thinking." 
"Oh, Sid," she said, "of course you know. Doesn't it seem queer to 
meet this way ? It's as though it meant something." 
"Possibly," I said. 

"Oh, God damn it," she said. "Go and get me that other drink." 
We always knew each other too well to be fooled by each other. 
Nevertheless I was very glad to see her, and I needed to see a friendly 
face in that planeload of talent as much as she did. 

Some experiences and memories have seemed to me to be a good 
substitute for material possessions. They may tarnish like old silver 
and require occasional polishing, but they never take up room, and 
they are seldom around when you don't want them. You have to pay 
for them, of course, by giving a part of your life away to the people 
or places from which they were acquired. Though this is not always 
a good bargain, your acquisition is sometimes worth the price, and 
certainly better than nothing, and above all, beyond the realm of con- 
scious choice. If some such exchange as this took place with me on 
that Atlantic flight in the last winter of the war, it must have taken 
place with Dottie, too. Without intending it, perhaps we both gave 
something of ourselves to each other, and consequently that day and 
night will probably for a long while retain a permanence for both 
of us. 

I do not mean by this that any ultraromantic element entered into 
our experience, although we both may have been aware that such a 
thing might happen and possibly would not have minded if it had. 
It had been a long while since I had been in love with Dottie Peale, 
if ever, and the same was true with her. We both of us must 
have realized previously that falling in love with each other would 
have been a harrowing and unsuccessful procedure which would have 
spoiled a more useful sort of competitive relationship. At any rate, 
that was our relationship on the plane. We were critical and at the 


same time fond of each other, and it did not matter whether or not 
we called a spade a spade. 

"By God," Dottie said, "it's nice to talk to an obvious bastard like 
you, darling, and nice that we can see everything in the same way 
without anything's ever getting anywhere. Fm awfully sick of rela- 
tionships that inevitably end up in bed." 

"That's a lovely way of putting it," I said. "You make me see ex- 
actly what you mean." 

"Well, we might end up that way," she said. "I wouldn't mind 

"That's very sweet of you," I said, "but don't let it worry you, Dot." 

"Don't be so God-damned complacent, darling," Dottie said. "I 
could make you fall in love with me any time I wanted. Any woman 
can do that to any man if she has any sexual awareness, and you 
know it, especially racketing around on a junket like this. God, what 
a lot of freaks there are on this plane!" 

This was the sort of conversation in which Dottie excelled. She al- 
ways loved to spread her influence over people like a blanket. 

There was not much time to talk to Dottie, what with all the at- 
tention I had to pay to the other freaks. They were all stirred up by 
the Great Adventure and they wanted to know all about future de- 
tails, and I could see that this annoyed Dottie, because wherever she 
was, she always wanted some man for her especial property. This all 
took care of itself, however, because when we reached Gander at 
about dusk, there was a big fuss made over the Important People, 
with cocktails and a very special supper before the take-off, and I 
was able to withdraw a while with the pilot and the rest of the crew, 
who had the bad luck to be assigned to us all the way. We had coffee 
together before I had to round up the passengers, who were being 
taken to the PX after supper to buy toothpaste and cigarettes just in 
case there weren't any in Europe, and we had a chance to discuss the 
implications of the trip. There was a chance to say that it was a hell 
of a way to win the war — taking a lot of freaks around in a crate. 
There was a chance also to be drawn together by a mutual sense of 

When the passengers climbed up the steps in the frigid dark and 


the door was slammed shut and they were told to make themselves 
as comfortable as they could, and that there would be a blackout after 
the take-off, I was delighted to see that they all understood at last the 
stress and strain of war, not that they were not all brave about it and 
very debonair. I found Dottie a seat over the wing, and after the 
flight engineer and I had arranged blankets and safety belts before 
the take-off, I took the seat beside her. While the lights were still on, 
she applied lipstick, efficiently and savagely, like someone preparing 
to die in the grand manner. She looked at me furiously when I told 
her that it was not on straight, and I felt rather sorry for her, because 
no matter how inured one may be to air travel, a take-off over a large 
body of water like the Atlantic is always a solemn moment. When 
the plane made its run, her fingernails bit into my hand, and I knew 
she was thinking what a fool she had been to come, but when we 
were air-borne, her grip relaxed. The motors made a reassuring 
drone in the dark. 

"Does everything sound all right?" she asked. 

"Hell, yes," I said. "Everything sounds fine, and now you'd better 
go to sleep." 

"Sid," she said, "do you mind if I tell you something? I keep think- 
ing we're going to die." 

"All right," I said, "if you want it that way, but you could be 

"Don't be so God-damned superior. I can think what I want, can't 
I ? I'm not afraid to die." 

"Well, plan your last words," I said, "and go to sleep. A special 
effort is being made to keep you alive." 

"Oh, shut up," she said. "God damn it, it's made me sick all day, 
watching you showing off." 

We did not speak for a while, and at last I thought she was asleep. 

"Sid," she said, "I wonder what everything's been about." 

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Are you still dying?" 

"Suppose I am," she said. "I've always wanted to amount to some- 
thing, and that's more than you ever have." 

"Well," I said, "I've tried to get along." 

"But you've never cared. Why don't you ever care?" 


"About what?" 

"About amounting to something. If you'd ever had any ambition, 
we might have been married. I could have done a lot for you. I 
really could have. Oh, God, I wish I'd ever been able to find a man!" 

"Well, you've done a certain amount of investigating," I told her, 
"and you did find Henry Peale." 

"There you go," she said, "and I know what you think. You think 
I married Henry for his money." 

"Yes," I said, "that's exactly what I think." 

"Well, maybe you're right," she said, "but Henry was awfully 
sweet. He understood me. You never understood me." 

"You're damned well right I did!" I said. "I understood that I 
didn't have anything you wanted." 

"Darling," she said, "you had plenty of things I wanted. I have 
often thought about them, but you didn't have ambition. You were 
possible in so many other ways, but I didn't want to have all the am- 

Instead of answering, I listened to the motors. Though it was a 
time one could say anything one wanted, I did not want to say too 

"I told you not to go over to Paris," she said. "I told you the Paris 
Bureau was the kiss of death. You didn't really think I'd wait 
around for you, did you, after you went to Paris?" 

"No," I said, "not for a single minute." 

"Well, at least we've always been honest with each other." 

"You're damned well right," I said. 

"Well, darling, we did have a lot of good times together." 

"Yes," I said, "we had quite a lot of fun." 

"Well, don't say it in such a disagreeable way. It wouldn't have 

"What's the use in going over it, Dot?" I asked. "We've always 
known it." 

Everyone was asleep except the crew up forward, and the knowl- 
edge that only she and I were awake somehow made the darkness 
heavy and palpable. There was nothing to Dottie in the dark except 
the intensity of her slightly husky voice and the pretentious scent of 


the Chanel Five she used and had used even when she was working 
for forty dollars a week, and except also an aura of physical cleanli- 
ness and resilience. Without seeing her at all, you could feel her 
strength and her unbroken confidence. 

"All right," she said, "all right. Maybe I have done some investi- 
gating. Who hasn't ? You can't help learning a lot about men when 
they are always making swan dives at you, darling, but it's all a 
little discouraging. I'll tell you what I've learned about men." 

"Don't," I said, "or I'll tell you what I've learned about women." 

I found myself sitting up straighter and listening. One of the port 
motors had missed, but then it picked up again. It had been nothing, 
and she had not noticed it. 

"You never learned anything about women from me that didn't 
make you disagreeable and conceited," she said, "but I'll tell you 
about men. Most men are stupid and incompetent. You aren't stu- 
pid, darling. You've always been a smarty pants, but you're in- 

"Well, it's nice I have a high IQ," I said. 

"You know you're incompetent," Dottie said, and her voice blend- 
ing with the motors sounded like my own conscience speaking. "You 
were never able to write as good a news story as I could, and you 
can't handle people. God, I wish I could ever have found a man!" 

I found myself growing annoyed, but I had to admit she was par- 
tially right. She had one of those restless retentive minds that could 
read and assimilate everything. She had an instinct for order and 
organization and an insatiable desire to influence everyone around 
her. She should have been a man and not a woman. 

"You've never wanted a real man," I said. "You've always wanted 
someone you could push, and then you get tired of him as soon as 
you find he's pushable." 

"Darling," she said, "you're so damned exasperating when you 
oversimplify. Of course I like to compete with men and of course 
I've had to in the publishing business, but I've always wanted a man 
who can do better than I can. That's all any woman ever wants — 
someone she can always respect, and someone whom she can do 
things for and who will listen to her." 


"Well," I said, "that's quite an order, considering what you are, 

"All right," she said, "what do you think I am? Please tell me, 

"I think you're a type," I said, "common in any matriarchal civili- 

"Oh, darling," she said, "do you think I am all of that ? I told you 
you were awfully bright." 

"You're an ambivalent type," I said. 

"All right," she said, "maybe I am, but at least I know exactly what 
I want." 

"You want everything," I said, "and you won't give anything up. 
That's why you're out in this crate tonight, because you want every- 
thing. First you wanted money and you got it, and then you wanted 
authority and you got it, and now you want to be General Eisen- 
hower or something, and now you'd better forget about yourself and 
go to sleep." 

"Darling," she said, "you're the only man who ever tells me what 
he really thinks about me. You're wrong, of course, but it's heavenly. 
Do you think we'll see Eisenhower in England or France or some- 

"Not unless he's a damn fool, but I wouldn't know," I said. 

"Oh well," she said. "Now I lay me down to sleep. . . . Good 
night, darling." 

I was half asleep when she spoke again and I stayed half asleep 
while she went on speaking. 

"I wish I weren't always competing for something. It makes me so 
tired. I was such a simple little girl, Sid. Did I ever show you my 
school photograph ? I was such a simple little girl in such a nice little 
Midwest town, but Father and Mother always made me compete 
. . . and those little bitches at Miss Shippin's school who always had 
newer dresses . . . Did I ever tell you about Miss Shippin's school?" 

"Yes, you know you have," I said. "Now let's go to sleep." 

She did not want to go to sleep. That drive and ambition of hers 
must have come from her parents, who evidently had not wanted her 
to share their mediocrity and who had made prodigious sacrifices in 


her behalf. It was a worthy little story, but I knew without listening 
that Dottie would never get what she wanted. There would always 
be her discontent and her constant sense of unfulfillment, and yet she 
would never lose her high courage and desire. She would always be 
the center of some drama as long as she was alive. 

Dawn was filtering through the windows of the plane when 1 
awoke, and Dottie was fast asleep in the reclining seat beside me. 
Her eyes were closed, and her face, though tranquil, was somehow 
still alert. She awoke almost as soon as I stirred and unlike most 
people, she knew exactly where she was. She smiled at me as she 
rubbed her eyes. 

"Is everything all right?" she asked. 

"Everything's fine," I said. "If you like, I can get you some coffee." 

"Thanks, dear," she said. "Didn't we have a good time?" 

"When?" I asked, and she laughed. 

"Why, last night," she said, "last night, talking." 

"Why, yes, we had a pretty good time," I said. Dottie always was 
good company. 

The trip must have received a blessing from the highest echelons, 
because the women were not required to wear any sort of uniform. 
Dottie was straightening her tailored jacket and arranging the eight- 
eenth-century-looking frills around her throat and patting the plain 
but heavy gold pin that held them, not that any of this was necessary, 
because asleep or awake she was impeccably, aggressively trim, and 
she always despised sloppiness in dress or posture. 

"It's like spending the night on a park bench," she said. "It's dis- 
gusting," but she would have looked as neat and fresh and competent 
even if she had been riding on bucket seats. 

"Anyway, you can both take it and dish it out, Dot," I told her. 

Her nose tilted upward when she smiled, as it did when she was 
particularly happy. 

"Darling, isn't it nice being with each other again?" she asked. 

"Again?" I repeated. 

"I mean being on each other's minds, the way we used to be once," 
she said. "I haven't got anyone else on my mind but you. It's the way 
it was when you were a nice boy and I was quite a nice girl, but I 


wasn't really nice, was I? Now button your coat and straighten your 
tie, and you should have snaved when you had the chance. You 
didn't shave at Gander, did you?" 

I was not flattered by her attention because it only meant that I was 
the only man available at the moment for her to put her mind on. 

Just then the door to the crew's compartment opened, and the me- 
chanic caught my eye and beckoned. He wanted me to help awaken 
the passengers because we were beginning to let down from nine 
thousand feet. We were not going direct to Prestwick because of a 
weather front. Instead we were landing in Iceland and we would 
start off to Scotland again in about two hours. I was too busy after 
that to converse any further with Dottie. It was cold and blustery on 
the sub-Arctic air strip, not a tree in sight, only rock ledges and a few 
sparse clumps of heather and overhead a leaden, threatening sky. As 
we climbed out of the plane and started to a group of Nissen huts 
for breakfast, I had a glimpse of Dottie on the level surface of the 
runway, hanging back from the rest of the passengers with her mink 
coat draped carelessly over her shoulders, alone, as all of us would 
be in the last analysis. She was standing straight with the breeze 
whipping at her hairdo but never pushing it out of place, staring 
aloofly at the stormy land. Yet she looked as much at home as though 
she were on Park Avenue waiting for a taxicab, and I was sure she 
would have done very well in Iceland, had she been obliged to remain 
there permanently. 


The Army Couldn't Have Been Sweeter 

Some months before this junket with the VIPs I had been assigned 
the task of conducting three or four newspaper correspondents to the 
front in Normandy. This was in the summer of 1944 during the 
build-up before the breakout near Saint-L6, and it was here that I 
first met Major General Melville A. Goodwin. General Goodwin was 
commanding a division known as the Silver Leaf Armored, and the 
word was that he was somewhat of an authority on mechanized war- 
fare, though he was not a personality with news interest. Besides, he 
was too busy to be bothered by correspondents except to meet them 
briefly, thus obeying the directive not to be disagreeable to the press. 
He only favored me with his personal attention because he wanted 
to make it very clear that I was to get those people the hell out of his 
sector as soon as possible. Then it had occurred to him that as long 
as we were going back I might not mind carrying back with me 
several personal letters he had written, and he took me with him to 
his dugout to get them. On our way a mortar shell landed near us, 
causing us to dive side by side into a ditch, not a friendship-cement- 
ing experience but something that did make us remember each other. 
He seemed to take the incident quite personally, I remember, acting 
as though it were a reflection on his own management that I should 
have rolled in mud, but finally he had said it was something that I 
could tell my grandchildren, and it would serve as a lesson to me 
not to come monkeying around in places where I did not belong. 

I was shaken enough by the exploding shell to answer him some- 
what disrespectfully. I told him, I remember, that it was not my idea 
of fun, being up there, and that as far as I was concerned I hoped I 
did not have to play around with him any more. Sometimes if you 


spoke frankly to those people, they enjoyed it, and he warmed up 
sufficiently to ask me what in hell I was doing in this war anyway. 
I told him I was sure I did not know, but whatever I was supposed 
to be doing wasn't useful. For some reason, this struck him as amus- 
ing, and he repeated it to his aide, who had come to brush him off. 
Then he said that I might as well have something to eat as long as 
I was there, and enough give-and-take had resulted so that he re- 
membered me when I saw him again in Paris. 

During the Battle of the Bulge in December, his division, the Sil- 
ver Leaf Armored, had inflicted severe punishment on the crack Ger- 
man units that had endeavored to overrun it, but it had taken a bad 
pounding in the process, and in February it was being overhauled, 
and the General was in Paris on short leave. It was at just this time 
that I was there with that personally conducted tour, and General 
Goodwin himself was called in to help with the Very Important 

By the time our literary caravan had reached Paris, various mili- 
tary echelons had succeeded in making the Very Important People 
who comprised our group feel that they amounted to more than they 
ever imagined previously — a phenomenon that was becoming quite 
common whenever the taxpayers' money was freely laid out for pub- 
lic relations. Indeed a selective feeling of sensitivity had developed 
in our party by the time we reached Paris. The Very Important 
People were growing quick to recognize unintentional slights, casual 
receptions at airports, grade B means of locomotion, and hotel ac- 
commodations not wholly in line with their expanding conception 
of their position. They were even beginning to criticize the qual- 
ity of wines and liquors supplied by hospitable rear-echelon head- 
quarters, but only mildly, as I knew, since I was the recipient of these 
complaints. Actually, they were having a wonderful time. They were 
becoming old campaigners, face to face with war's hardships, and 
entrusted with strategic secrets. They had been given the treatment 
reserved usually for visiting congressmen and perhaps a little more. 
They had been given wistful, brave and eloquent talks by the high- 
ranking officers best equipped to do this sort of thing. They had stood 
personally in the operations offices of bomber commands. They had 


watched paratroopers, had visited base hospitals and the interiors of 
tanks. Generals, who asked them to call them by their first names, 
had entertained them at delightful dinners, and they had been al- 
lowed on the whole to chat freely with the enlisted boys. 

They were realizing increasingly that they had a mission to per- 
form and that they, too, were part of the Team. Their mission was 
to tell smug, self-satisfied and ignorant civilians at home what war 
was really like, civilians engrossed in their petty selfishnesses who 
had never seen a dead body upon a battlefield or had never heard a 
gun go off. True, our group had not seen a dead body yet, but they 
had seen the Omaha beachhead. Now that they were in Paris and 
soon to go forward to study the ruins of Aachen, they might en- 
counter a dead body at any moment. They might even be in an air 
raid and be dead bodies themselves, killed in a noble cause. Since 
most of the group had been engaged at least in the fringes of crea- 
tive literature, they possessed the vivid imagination that enabled them 
both to appreciate and exaggerate. Some of them, in fact, were dis- 
covering latent powers of leadership and, in the few leisure mo- 
ments allowed them, were beginning to indulge in military critiques. 
Being guests of the army, they were allowed to buy uniforms with- 
out insignia if they wished, and it was even suggested that the girls 
should wear trousers when they got to Aachen. They were very, very 
tired. They were making their own small sacrifices. They were hav- 
ing a wonderful time. 

As Dottie Peale expressed it, the army couldn't have been sweeter, 
and sometimes the army was so sweet that it almost made her want 
to cry. I must say I was sometimes surprised that the army was so 
sweet to them, not that this made me lachrymose, since it was my 
business to be sweet to them myself. Looking back, I believe that the 
army was really impressed and bewildered by our party, because no 
army had ever seen anything just like it, even from a distance. No 
one knew, except in the vaguest way, who any of our people were, 
but officers, old and young, always seemed convinced that this igno- 
rance was their loss and that it betrayed a regrettable lack of per- 
sonal cultivation. They were always saying — even the generals, 
when they asked me in subdued voices just who these people were 


and what they had written — that they did not have much time to 
read — and somehow those pocketbooks issued by the army seldom 
included the works of these particular Very Important People. Fi- 
nally the brass even began to respect me, the mere cicerone of a 
traveling circus, because I could tell them what it was my charges 
did back there in the States. Thus I myself began to live in reflected 
glory by the time we got to Paris. I, too, was almost a man of 

I do not recall who in our party wanted to hear all about the Battle 
of the Bulge. This affair was still a sensitive subject in some quarters, 
since it was feared that the American public had gained the impres- 
sion, especially after some acid comments by old General Peyton 
March, the World War I Chief of Staff, that this German offensive 
may have come to our leaders as a nasty surprise. It obviously must 
have seemed very important to somebody that these Very Important 
People, who had so much influence in civilian life, should be handed 
the real truth. At any rate, I was very much surprised on our second 
evening in Paris to be summoned by a very high-ranking officer and 
told that arrangements were being made to give my whole group a 
definitive lecture on the Battle of the Bulge. This was to be a confi- 
dential talk, and intelligence officers were already collecting the ma- 
terial, and efforts were being made to locate some competent general 
officer to deliver the address. I was to have my whole party at the 
place named at three o'clock. The day's schedule would be changed 
accordingly, and transportation would be supplied to take the party 
from the Ritz. I knew that this idea would not be well received by 
my charges, since they were pretty tired and had been promised a 
trip the next afternoon to Versailles, but it was not for me to argue. 

The group found itself in a cold and bare room at one of the head- 
quarters buildings precisely at the hour named. The lecture being 
confidential, there was a guard at the door to check credentials, which 
gave an atmosphere of humorless melodrama. Collapsible chairs were 
arranged as in a university classroom. There was a lecturer's plat- 
form, and there were specially prepared maps, covered by a draw- 
string curtain, with two officers to shift them. A worried-looking 
lieutenant colonel from Intelligence directed all the doors closed after 

6 7 

asking me in a low voice whether everyone had been checked in, 
and I could see from the faces of our group that they understood 
that they had finally reached an inner sanctum. This was one of 
those strictly military occasions when everyone concerned had a 
word to say, and I had been ordered to make the first remarks. It 
was amazing how much trips like these had taught me about extem- 
poraneous addresses, and thus I was able to step onto the platform 
grimly and confidently and to speak in that voice which Gilbert 
Frary had yet to discover. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," I said, "we are now in what is known 
as 'a guarded room/ It is here that the day-to-day situation at the 
Front is explained to suitably cleared personnel. I am asked to em- 
phasize to you particularly that all you may see and hear during 
this hour is of a Confidential nature, which means that it is only 
just below the category of Secret. For this reason you are asked to 
take no notes. I believe that is all I was ordered to explain, isn't it, 

"Yes, Major Skelton," the colonel said. "Thank you, Major Skel- 

I stepped off the platform, taking a place beside Dottie Peale on 
one of the uncomfortable folding metal chairs with which these 
rooms were always furnished, and the lieutenant colonel followed 
me on the platform. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "in arranging this er — little 
show, which everyone hopes you will enjoy, we are fortunate in 
having with us a divisional commander who took an active part in 
this battle and who has been kind enough to agree to outline it to 
you personally." He paused and cleared his throat and nodded to a 
sergeant in battle dress, who stood by a door next the platform. "All 
right, Sergeant," the colonel said, "if the General is ready for us." 

The sergeant opened the door with a snappy one-two movement 
and then stood at attention. As someone involved in such arrange- 
ments had said, if you are going to do a thing, you might as well do 
it right. The army couldn't have been sweeter, and it was quite a — 
er — little show, with everything ticking according to plan. As the 
door opened, a two-star general, who must have been waiting in 


the corridor, strode in, deliberately, calmly, and stepped solidly onto 
the platform. 

It was General Goodwin, whom I recognized immediately. He 
was a man of about fifty, of medium height, and his uniform was 
smartly pressed, even though its elbows and his ribbons looked well 
worn. His step was firm but at the same time light and co-ordinated. 
His sandy-gray hair was freshly barbered in a crew cut. His eye- 
brows were heavy, and the lines around his mouth were as correct 
as the creases in his trousers. His class ring immediately suggested 
West Point, not that a ring was necessary. He had an aloof but 
agreeable look which you might have called boyish, in that it made 
you think he had been a nice boy once, but he was no longer a boy. 
He was a two-star general, and not a staff general either. You could 
be sure of this without being able to explain why. He looked very 
much as I had seen him at the front at Saint-L6, reliable and com- 

"Ladies and gentlemen," the lieutenant colonel said, "this is 
Major General Melville Goodwin, commanding the armored di- 
vision known as the Silver Leaf Division, which saw action in the 
Battle of the Bulge." 

There was a faint ripple of attention but no applause. After all, it 
was a confidential meeting. The General looked thoughtfully at the 
map curtain flanked by the two lieutenants. 

"Have you got a pointer here?" He spoke gently and agreeably 
like a mechanic asking for a monkey wrench. The lieutenants and 
the lieutenant colonel scurried about the platform, searching with a 
galvanized sort of consternation, but somehow the pointer that al- 
ways accompanied maps had disappeared. 

The General raised his voice only slightly. 

"There ought to be one around," he said, "one of those things you 
point places out with, Colonel. I always feel more at home when I 
have a stick in my hand." He smiled in a very friendly way at the 
Very Important People, and they tittered, realizing at once that the 
General was an affable man. 

"Well, go ahead and find one." His voice was a shade louder. "Run 
out and get one, Sergeant, a ruler or a cane or something. And now 


while we're waiting, I might begin to tell you the whole secret o£ 
how to win a fight, now that we're going to talk about a fight in a 
minute. This little ruckus" — General Goodwin strode toward the 
front of the platform and looked as though he were enjoying him- 
self — "that we found ourselves in around Christmas time has all the 
principles of any other engagement, and the secret of winning a fight 
has been, I think, very well described by an old fellow who was a 
Confederate general in the Civil War. Mind you, I don't call it the 
War Between the States, because my grandpappy fought in the 
Union Army." 

The General paused and smiled again in a friendly way, and I 
knew what was coming. It would inevitably be the good old chestnut 
that invariably flashed before the military mind. 

"The party's name was General Forrest, but maybe you know of 
him, because they tell me that you are all high-ranking writers here, 
though I didn't know we had so many lovely lady writers." I saw the 
General smile and I saw that he was looking approvingly at Dottie 
Peale. "Now this General Forrest was an uneducated old fellow. He 
didn't go to the Point like General Lee, but he knew about war, and 
this is what he said in his simple way, and the principles of war are 
pretty simple, as you know if you've read Napoleon or Clausewitz, 
not that I'm giving a literary talk to literary people. This General 
Forrest said, the principle of winning a fight is, and I quote, to git 
thar fastest with the mostest men. Well, in this Christmas time 
ruckus we didn't git thar fustest because the Jerries were attacking, 
but we did end up with the mostest and we rubbed their noses." 

The General rubbed his hands together. The aphorism of General 
Forrest was successfully off his chest. The sergeant was back with a 

"Well, sons," he said to the lieutenants, "what are you waiting for ? 
Pull back those curtains if they work and let's take a look at the map. 
You people must excuse me if I run right on informally. I'm not a 
public speaker." 

The lieutenants drew aside the curtain. Major General Melville 
Goodwin was squaring up to his task. The preliminaries were over. 

"Sid," Dottie Peale whispered, "he couldn't be sweeter." 


As far as I knew, Public Relations in the European Theater of 
Operations had never been called upon to "humanize" Major Gen- 
eral Melville Goodwin — a term used quite without irony in certain 
quarters when it became advisable to seek out homely and endearing 
qualities in the character of a general officer for the purpose of mak- 
ing him better understood and more beloved by the American public. 
Thus in spite of our previous brief acquaintance, I had never en- 
dowed the General in my own mind with any particular individual- 
ity. Until that afternoon he had been for me more of a species than a 
person, and when one was in uniform oneself, sharing the symbol- 
ism of rank, it was generally advisable to consider higher ranking 
officers in this manner. Then when they started pushing you about, 
instead of disliking them as people, you could blame their actions on 
a great system far beyond the control of any individual. 

Up there on the platform General Goodwin was true to his species. 
His use of the old chestnut, the "git thar fustest" gambit, was reas- 
suringly characteristic, and more suitable for a major general than a 
brigadier. His whole talk had what you might term a two-star com- 
petency, good and solid, without trespassing on the realms of three- 
star brilliance. His explanations of mobility and logistics were concise 
and unclouded, because there could be no embarrassed stumblings 
in a major general's talk. Those people had been trained since they 
were shavetails to marshal facts and present them to increasingly 
critical groups. Everyone was always giving a talk about something 
in the army. 

Personally I had developed a healthy imperviousness to tear- 
jerking orators and would-be humorists and melodramatists. The 
easiest to take were the plain talkers, and the General was good and 
plain. As I sat there wishing to goodness that I were in some cafe 
near the Luxembourg Gardens, I began, in spite of myself, to think 
of him as an individual. The neat threadbare quality of his uniform 
indicated a sort of self-respect not acquired by looking in a mirror. 
He did not try, like so many of his kind, to project his personality 
or to exhibit the dynamics of leadership. He had learned somehow 
that this sort of thing was unnecessary, and this was not always so 
with major generals, a lot of whom had never held a rank above 

7 1 

lieutenant colonel before the beginning of the war. He did not ap- 
pear to have himself on his mind, although he was addressing Very 
Important People, an experience which often made the army make 
an ass of itself. He spoke sensibly, not once drawing on personal 
reminiscence or saying that the American soldier is the greatest 
soldier in die world. Without being especially impressed, I began to 
wonder what there might be behind this facade, where he had come 
from, and what he might be like if one simply met him without the 
chain of command interfering — but then this was inconceivable. 

In the middle of a sentence General Goodwin's talk came to a full 
stop, which startled me because I had not believed that a faint bus- 
tling sound in the rear of the room would have disturbed him, but 
when I turned to look, I saw that he should have paused. A three- 
star general had joined us, the one who had in fact initiated the 
whole show. He was an elderly-looking man with horn-rimmed 
glasses, and he stood watching like a proud headmaster approving 
of one of his teachers* efforts. 

"I was just explaining the position of the Hundred and First Air- 
borne, sir," General Goodwin said. 

The visitor gestured to a sergeant to bring him a chair. 

"Go right ahead, Mel," he said, "don't mind me. I am sorry I 
wasn't here at the beginning — but now that I've interrupted I might 
make one slight contribution to this discussion. War is always war, 
ladies and gentlemen. The concept is always the same in spite of 
modern weapons, and that concept was ably expressed by a Con- 
federate officer in the Civil War named Forrest. He said it was all a 
question of 'gittin' thar fustest with the mostest men.' " 

It was an inspiration, almost, to observe General Goodwin's face, 
for he seemed to have heard these remarks for the first time, and he 
gave them a subordinate's prompt approval. 

"Yes, sir," he said. 

"Well, go ahead, Mel, and don't mind me," the Lieutenant General 
said, and he sat down. 

"Yes, sir," General Goodwin answered. "Well, up here is the posi- 
tion of the Hundred and First Airborne. . . ." 

Years of discipline and the instinctive respect for rank and for the 


flag gave that little interchange a quality all its own, and aspects that 
might amuse a civilian were utterly lost on those two officers. Per- 
haps at some secluded meeting, in a poker game perhaps, Mel Good- 
win would have called his visitor Dick or Charlie, since sometime 
in the course o£ their careers they must have been thrown closely 
together. Perhaps they had played polo once or had swum together 
on some Hawaiian beach. They were obviously friends, because of 
the word "Mel," but here rank kept General Goodwin in his place. 
He had picked up his chain of thought again, exactly where he had 
dropped it, and die Battle of the Bulge went on, down to its trium- 
phant conclusion. 

"Now that's about all I have to say on the subject," General Good- 
win finally said. "But in closing, I don't want anyone here to think 
that there is anything definitive about these statements. All the re- 
ports aren't in yet. It will take years to evaluate them. A confusion 
called the fog of battle always settles over any of these ruckuses and 
somehow just never lifts. There's still a fog over the Battle of Gettys- 
burg." He coughed apologetically. "Don't you agree with me, sir?" 

It was very nicely done. He had tossed the ball over to his superior, 
exactly as he should have, and now his superior could carry it or toss 
it back, and the Lieutenant General tossed it. 

"That's quite correct," he said. "You people would be surprised at 
the study any battle involves, but General Goodwin is carrying the 
ball for us. Go ahead, Mel." 

It was all very nicely done. The Very Important People were bask- 
ing in the relaxed confidences of the two military men. 

"Well, sir," General Goodwin said, "maybe I'd better put the ball 
down now." He smiled, and his youth came back to him when he 
smiled. "I don't want to stick my neck out with one of my bosses 
listening." There were appreciative chuckles from the Very Impor- 
tant People. "It's been a great pleasure talking to you like this, of? 
the record, and I hope I haven't put you all to sleep. Now maybe 
we'd better start thinking how we're going to cross the Rhine. Of 
course we're going to cross it. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen." 

There was a gentle scraping of chairs. Then someone clapped 
timidly, since it might not be right to applaud a confidential talk, 


but finally everybody clapped until the Lieutenant General's voice 
rose above the applause. 

"Thanks, Mel," he said, "for the fine exposition that I knew you 
would give. I know all you ladies and gentlemen, our distinguished 
guests, must feel as grateful as I do to General Goodwin for giving 
us his time. Personally, I must add my apologies. He's down here 
in Paris for a few days of well-earned relaxation, and I was mean 
enough to cut into his play hours and put the bee on him for this 
assignment — but now perhaps we'd better all relax and get a little 
of this — er — fog of battle out of our throats. If you care to follow 
me downstairs, I think there are a few refreshments waiting, de- 
signed to accomplish this, and if any of you have any questions you 
want to ask General Goodwin or me or anybody else, why we'll be 
there to answer them. Thanks again, Mel." 

I watched the group file out of the room, and before following, 
General Goodwin did the right thing. Smiling, he thanked the 
young officers for handling the maps and shook hands with the 
lieutenant colonel of Intelligence. 

"I'm sorry about the pointer, sir," I heard the lieutenant colonel 

"To hell with the pointer," General Goodwin said. "What is it, 

"Would the General mind signing my short snorter, sir?" the 
sergeant asked, and he unrolled the collection of paper money which 
soldiers gathered in those days, in the various countries they visited, 
and attached together with scotch tape. 

"Why, certainly," the General said. "Pull it out, son. I started one 
of those myself once, but I don't know where it's gone." 

Cocktails were served in the offices downstairs. By this time the 
VIPs had grown to understand that refreshments followed nearly 
every event. They were to be entertained that night at a Military 
Government dinner, which would be preceded by another cocktail 
hour, but they were not allergic to refreshments at any time. I had 
been told that morning, greatly to my relief, that Military Govern- 
ment would take full charge of the party from five-thirty on, which 
meant that I need not attend the function and could spend an eve- 


ning in Paris by myself, but this time was still far off. Weary as I 
was of cocktails and appetizers and hearing officers going through 
the same routine, I had to follow them downstairs, the last of the 
procession like the tail of a kite. 

It had not been my intention to speak to General Goodwin, be- 
cause he would be bothered enough with other contacts. In fact, I 
never thought that he would remember me, and it surprised me that 
he did, until I recollected that officers of field rank were obliged to 
file away quick dossiers of individuals and their aptitudes. Scotch 
was hard to find in Paris unless you were around with the big brass, 
and even the VIPs were beginning to run short and had begun hid- 
ing bottles in their suitcases. I was taking the precaution of ordering 
a double Scotch before the supply ran out, when the General spoke 
to me. He was right beside me with a double Scotch himself. 

"Well, hello," he said. "Who let you in here?'* and he held out his 

I shook hands with him and told him I was there looking after the 
VIPs because someone had to. He asked if I didn't wish we were 
eating K rations at Saint-L6, and I said I certainly did. Then he 
asked me if I'd ever been in Paris before, and I told him I had 
worked there for several years before the war. 

"I've only been here during wars," he said. "Always passing 
through. Last time was World War I, just passing through, but you 
were in short pants in those days." 

Naturally I did not want to take up any more of his time, and I 
thought he would turn away and give his attention to someone else, 
but instead he went right on talking, in an easy, friendly manner. 
Perhaps he was not at home with writers, and my status bridged 
a gap and made it possible for him to be informal. 

"Well," he said, "maybe you'd better introduce me to the com- 
pany," but he did not look happy at the prospect and he seemed to 
have something else on his mind. "Look, Major," he went on, "I'm 
at loose ends here. How about having dinner with me tonight — 
that is, if you haven't got anything else to do? God damn it, you 
don't have to. Never mind the rank." 

"I don't," I said, "unless you want to pull it on me." Sometimes 


generals welcomed such a feeble joke. "Thanks for asking me, sir. 
I should enjoy having dinner." 

"Well, that's fine," he said. "You're sure you don't mind?" 

"It'll be a great pleasure, sir," I said. He had obviously asked me 
on the spur of the moment, and now he may have realized that the 
whole thing was irregular. 

"Don't sound off about its being a pleasure," he said. "I owe you 
a dinner. Those letters I gave you got home all right. Remember 
that mortar shell?" He laughed happily. "I always jump myself 
when those damn things go off. You never hear them coming — 
they're just right there. Let's have another drink and then I'd better 
meet the crowd." 

"Yes, sir," I said, "I'd better introduce you. That's my function, I 
guess, and I enjoyed your talk very much, sir." 

"God damn it," he said, "let's forget about the talk." 

"Especially," I said, "about gittin' thar fustest with the mostest 

He looked at me in a shocked way, almost as though I had uttered 
a blasphemy. 

"Take me over and introduce me to that pretty girl," he said, 
and he nodded toward Dottie Peale, who was standing arrogantly 
aloof in her tailored suit, drinking a double dry Martini cocktail. 

As the General and I moved toward her, I remember thinking 
very favorably of Dottie Peale's qualities of neatness and durability. 
The rest of the VIPs, though still avid enough not to miss a single 
minute of their unique experience, were beginning to suffer from 
museum fatigue, whereas Dottie looked as she had when she had 
awakened in the plane that morning over the ocean, fresh and in 
perfect order. The French, I was thinking, almost had a word for 
her — soignee — except that Dottie's general appearance had never 
given me the impression of care or effort or made me feel that she 
did all the things to herself one reads about in Harper s Bazaar. 
I found myself calculating her age by subtracting three or four years 
from my own, a computation which showed that she must have been 
about thirty-four that afternoon in Paris. She had never been aggres- 
sively or meltingly beautiful, but she still looked like a Rosalind in 

7 6 

a page boy's dress, if you wanted to bring in Shakespeare, and she 
might have been a better Rosalind than any I had ever seen. She 
was not as pretty as Helen, I was thinking, but she was the most 
attractive woman in the room, and General Goodwin obviously 
shared my opinion. 

"There's nothing like a nice American girl," he said, "is there, 

It may have been that first warming glimpse of her that made the 
General call me Sid. It struck me at the time as one of those crude 
and forthright efforts at friendship that the big brass made occa- 
sionally, and all that surprised me was that he knew my first name. 
He must have heard the newspapermen call me Sid back there in 

Of course Dottie had been watching us edge toward her, although 
she smiled at us in quick, innocent surprise. 

"Well," she said to me after I had introduced the General, "I 
thought you'd got lost, Sid," and she smiled again, not at me but at 
him, "behind those maps or somewhere." 

"Sid doesn't get lost," the General said. "Sid knows his way 
around," and he gave my shoulder a quick, affectionate shake. 

"Oh, I didn't know you knew Sid," Dottie said. ". . . Oh, thank 
you, sir." 

She had turned to a colonel who had arrived with another double 
Martini and who relieved her of her empty glass. The tone she used 
when she called him "sir" was charming, and ingenuous, but the 
colonel knew his protocol. If he had forgotten even for a moment 
that he was outranked, he would have remembered when the Gen- 
eral glanced at him, and he left us. 

"That Martini looks pretty warm," the General said. "Here, let 
me call him back and tell him to get you a colder one." 

"Oh, no thanks," Dottie said. "It's very nice." 

"These Cocktail Joes ought to know enough to dish up cold cock- 
tails," the General said. 

When Dottie spoke again, her voice had a serious, respectful note. 

"I thought your talk was intensely interesting, sir," she said. "I'm 
not much at military details, not that I oughtn't to be learning, with 


everyone so sweet about explaining things, but I loved seeing some- 
one as sure of himself as you were." 

I still sometimes found myself believing Dottie when she was 
humbly serious. You might forget the words but never her sudden 
yielding manner of speech. Even though time and experience had 
given me immunity, I felt a slight pang of jealousy as I observed its 
effect on General Goodwin. 

"Well, thanks," he said, "but I guess you haven't seen many sol- 
diers, have you?" 

"No," Dottie said, "not many." 

"Well, out here, if we don't want to get sent home," he said, 
"we've got to be sure of ourselves and also of the whole works." 

"If you don't mind, sir," I said, "maybe I had better bring some 
of the other people up to meet you." 

He was on duty. It was no time to talk to Dottie, and he knew it. 

"That's right," the General said. "Go and get them, but just stay 
here, will you, Mrs. Peale, and help me? I don't know about these 
writing people." 

As a matter of fact, I did not need to get them. All the Very Im- 
portant People were already gathering around the General, so closely 
that Dottie was pushed to the edge of the circle. 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "why didn't you tell me? I didn't know you 
knew him." 

"I didn't know I did either," I said. "It just came over us sud- 

"Darling," Dottie said, "do you remember what I said about look- 
ing for a man?" 

"He wears pants, all right," I said. 

"Oh, shut up," Dottie said. "Darling, you've got to do something 
about him for me. I don't want to lose him in this crowd." 

Of course she must have known very well she was not going to 
lose him. 

That dialogue between Dottie and General Goodwin has remained 
fresh in my memory because of its very dullness, but then even dull 
conversation had a meaning of its own in a womanless war theater. 
I was struggling under a weight of satiety, wishing that General 


Goodwin had not asked me to have dinner with him, and wondering 
why I had not immediately thought of some polite excuse. 

"Look at him," Dottie said. "He must be bored to death, but he 
couldn't be sweeter." 

"If you don't mind, Dottie," I said, "please stop saying that these 
people couldn't be sweeter." 

"You never did like people, dear," Dottie said. "Why can't you be 
kind when someone is suffering? Just look at him." 

"Fm suffering myself," I said. 

"But not in a sweet way," Dottie said. "You're always nasty when 
you suffer. Sid, please look at him." 

"Fm going to see too much of him," I told her. "He's asked me 
out to dinner." 

"Good God!" Dottie said. "Why didn't you tell me? I think you're 
the most selfish person sometimes, Sid." 

If General Goodwin was suffering, he did not show it. On the 
contrary, he seemed to enjoy the group around him, none of whom 
would have given him a moment's attention in days of peace. He 
would have been at some army post somewhere this minute if it had 
not been for the war, sitting on some veranda in officers' row or in 
some office doing paper work. Perhaps this party was a welcome 
change for him. The word must have been passed that General 
Goodwin was a genuine combat general, and that he had seen a lot 
of action beginning with the North African invasion. A combat 
general was still a novelty to our party. He stood there answering 
their questions courteously, nodding and frequently smiling, with 
what looked like honest pleasure. 

"Sid," Dottie asked me, "what are all his ribbons?" 

For some reason, although everyone in the party had been given 
an illustrated folder explaining service ribbons and decorations, none 
of them seemed able to keep them straight. They only knew that 
every officer was a walking totem pole and that they could not read 
the signs. 

"They aren't bad," I said, "considering he's a line officer and not 
in the Air Force. He's been wounded twice. He's got the Croix de 
guerre with a palm, Distinguished Service Cross, Legion of Merit, 


and a lot of other things with stars and clusters. He hasn't done 
badly at all. They look like good, honest decorations, and they're 
not too ostentatious." 

"Don't be so patronizing. You haven't any," Dottie said. 

I told her she was perfectly right, that I was in no position to 
collect those things, but I explained to her that officers, especially in 
the Regular Army, passed those things around to each other and 
valued them greatly because they were a help professionally, and that 
ribbons were useful also in indicating places of service, exclusive of 

"I wish you would stop being cynical sometimes," Dottie said, 
"and stop treating bravery as a joke." 

There couldn't be enough bravery, I told her, to balance all the 
ribbons in the ETO, and a lot of brave men didn't get them, and I 
told her that the General would tell her the same thing — that he 
really did have a very nice collection, but not all for good behavior. 

"He's looking at his watch now," Dottie said. 

"That's true," I said. "I guess he's had enough. He's going to ask 
the boss if he can go now." 

"Sid," she said, and she pulled at my sleeve, "Sid, he's coming this 

"All right," I said, "all right." 

"Sid, can't I go to dinner with you?" 

"No," I said, "you can't. You're going on another party." 

"Sid," she said, "I've got a dreadful headache." 

"Then you can have something quietly in your room at the Ritz. 
You can't walk out on the program, Dottie." 

"Oh, can't I?" Dottie said. 

"No," I said, "and you're not going to throw a monkey wrench 
into the machinery just because you have a sudden whim." 

"Oh," she said, "so that's what I have." 

"I'm putting it in a nice way," I began, and then we both stopped 
because General Goodwin was back with us. 

"Well," the General said, "it looks as though the little party is 
breaking up." 

Dottie spoke quickly before I had a chance to answer. 


"Won't you come along with us to the Ritz, sir?" Dottie said. 
"Sid says that he's dining with you. Pm not going anywhere tonight 
because I have a dreadful headache, but I have a sitting room." 

"Yes, that's true," I said. "Mrs. Peale has a headache and a sit- 
ting room," but neither of them was listening to me. 

"I'd love it," Dottie said, "if you two would keep me company 
while I take some aspirin. It's awfully lonely at the Ritz." 

"Why, Mrs. Peale," the General began, "if you're not feeling 
well — " 

Dottie laughed lightly and musically. 

"It's only a diplomatic headache," she said. "I don't want to go 
out to that dinner party, and Sidney says if I don't go, I will have 
to stay at home or it won't be military, and it's awfully lonely at the 
Ritz, but I have got a sitting room." 

She stopped and waited and I waited while the General considered 
the situation, and it only took him a second to put it all in order. 

"Perhaps I might make a suggestion," he said. "As long as you 
have a sitting room, why don't we all three have a quiet dinner 
there, Mrs. Peale?" 

Dottie laughed. 

"I think it's a very good suggestion," she said, "as long as I didn't 
suggest it first," and then the General laughed as though Dottie had 
said something delightfully humorous. 

"I've got a car outside that ought to get us there," he said. 

"Sid, dear," Dottie said, "would you mind finding my coat for 

"I've got a coat and things around somewhere, too," the General 
said. "Would you mind telling somebody to look them up for me, 

As I left them, he and Dottie were talking as though I had never 
been there at all, and as though they were old friends who had met 
delightfully and unexpectedly and who had a great many things to 
say to one another. 

Outside the General's car was waiting in a highly preferred posi- 
tion. When he saw the General, the driver removed the cover from 
the two-star plate and opened the door. 


"The Ritz, son," the General said to the driver, and when we were 
all seated and the door was closed, he laughed. "Now that we're all 
together, let's cut out this 'sir' business and this rank. We both know 
Sid, and my name's Mel. What's your name, Mrs. Peale?" 

"It's Dorothy, sir," Dottie said, "but you can call me Dottie if 
you like." 

"Dottie," General Goodwin said, "you can't know what it means 
to see a nice American girl again." 

"You've certainly met one now, General," I said. 

"God damn it," the General said, "didn't I tell you to call me 

"That's right. Excuse me, Mel," I said. 


Sid, Here, Knows What I Mean . . . 

In Paris that February, the Bulge battle was such recent history 
that it was still a good subject for conversation. It was generally 
known that the armored division commanded by Major General 
Melville Goodwin was a part o£ the group engaged in what was 
called "blunting von Rundstedt's spearhead.'* The Silver Leaf Ar- 
mored, so called because of the insignia placed on its rolling stock, 
had been rushed from the Vosges area to a small village named 
Maule, where the situation was so critical locally that the division 
was ordered to attack before any suitable liaison could be estab- 
lished with the forces on its flanks, and, through no fault of its own, 
the Silver Leaf had been cut off and in the subsequent free-for-all 
had sustained heavy losses. Indeed it had even looked for a time as 
though it might be wiped out as a fighting unit, and I had heard it 
said that it only got off as well as it did because of its high morale 
and its commander's great skill with mechanized materiel. What- 
ever the facts might be, General Goodwin came out of the Battle 
of the Bulge very well personally. In fact if it had not been for the 
spectacular stand of the Hundred and First Airborne, the Silver 
Leaf Armored Division might have figured prominently in the news 
in those grim days when both headquarters and the press were look- 
ing rather frantically for heroes. As it was, everybody said that it had 
performed its mission correctly, dishing out more than it took and 
effectively chewing up von Rundstedt's advance elements so that 
they could finally be contained. 

For a few days correspondents in the rear areas had been curious 
as to who General Goodwin was, and about his previous service, 
and a few people who knew everything, or thought they did, began 


supplying information. Goodwin had been in North Africa. He had 
been a brigadier at Kasserine Pass and had done something or other 
in that unhappy affair that had been favorably mentioned. Someone 
recalled that General Patton had spoken highly of him and had re- 
ferred to him as Mel and had even called him a two-fist slugger. 
He was in the Regular Army, a West Point graduate, but never on 
what was sometimes called the "first team." Yet first team men had 
liked to have him in their groups and everyone could not be a prima 

When we had dinner that evening in Dottie's sitting room at the 
Ritz, an extra trimming which Dottie insisted on paying for with 
her own traveler's checks, I knew these facts about Mel Goodwin. 
I felt the genuine respect for him that anyone in my position was 
bound to feel for someone who had been through what he had. 
I wanted just as much as Dottie to give him a good time and to 
take his mind off things that worried him. Dottie was always good 
at little dinners and she loved to show how much she knew about 
wines and food. As she told us, she might be stupid about some 
things, about French for instance, which she could read but had 
never learned to speak, but she did know how to make men com- 
fortable, and we could be a lot more comfortable at the Ritz than 
we would be at the Tour d'Argent or any of those crowded res- 
taurants. I could do the ordering because I could speak French, and 
I could be bartender, too. 

"Sid and I are almost like brother and sister," she said, "we've 
known each other so long." 

She took a key ring from her purse. I could go into the bedroom, 
she said, like a darling, and open the alligator-skin case, not the big 
one but the small one, that she kept the bottles in, and, like a darling, 
I could bring out the Scotch she had bought yesterday and the gin 
and vermouth. Then while we rang for ice and glasses, she would go 
in and put on something more comfortable than her old traveling 
suit, but we must be sure not to say anything interesting until she 
came out. I could hear her whistling a little tune as she closed the 
bedroom door. I never knew what the tune was, but it was one I 
had often heard her whistle when she was happy, and it reminded 

8 4 

me of her little apartment in Greenwich Village in the days before 
I went to the Paris Bureau. I could almost see her studio couch and 
her armchair and her bookcase with the copy of T. S. Eliot's poems 
that I had given her, and the paper-bound volume of Ulysses, which 
I had never been able to read except in snatches, beside her Fowler's 
Modern English Usage. 

Dottie had no need to worry. The General and I said nothing in- 
teresting while she was in the bedroom. The General sat down heav- 
ily in a French armchair with rather dingy silk upholstery. 

"By God," he said, "this is a good soft chair." 

It was the first time I had seen him relaxed, but he was not wholly 
relaxed. His feet were placed so that he could spring up quickly if 
he had to, and though he had leaned his head back and half closed 
his eyes, he seemed to be listening to the street noises outside, to the 
staccato sound of motor horns one always hears in Paris, and to the 
sound of a plane. The lines on his forehead and at the corners 
of his eyes and mouth had not softened. His face had the stamp of 
the other faces of people I had seen who had come recently out of 
action into a quiet area. They always reminded one of a half -erased 
page still bearing a few distinguishable words left there by mistake. 

"Son," he said, "it's peaceful here. How about taking a touch of 
that whisky before we get the ice?" 

I was thinking as he held out his glass that we neither of us were 
as out of place in that sitting room as we might have been, in spite 
of its marble-topped Empire tables, its Louis Quinze sofas and its 
gilded mirrors. Other soldiers had been there before us — French 
and English and American — when the Big Bertha had fired on 
Paris back in 191 8. More French and British had been there twenty 
years later, and then Germans and again Americans. The Ritz was 
as inured to soldiers as Paris was to war and riot. 

When the waiter came with the ice, I asked him to send up one 
of the maitres d'hotel. We wanted to order a very good and a very 
special dinner. 

"He understands you, doesn't he?" the General said. "I learned 
some French at the Point but it never seems to work right for me 
over here." 


I told him that he could speak French as well as I could if he were 
obliged to, that it was all a matter of necessity. 

"I wouldn't know/' he said. "Frankly, I have never gone in much 
for languages, because if you know a language your neck is out. 
Now when I was in Tientsin, a friend of mine went to language 
school in Peking. . . ." He stopped; he was not interested in what 
he was saying. "So you and Mrs. Peale are old friends." 

He glanced at the closed door of the bedroom. 

"Yes," I said, "we've known each other for quite a while." 

At least Dottie was something for us to talk about, and I told 
about Park Row and about her marrying Henry Peale, and how she 
had taken over the publishing business. 

"Why didn't you two kids get married?" he asked. "You sound 
as though you'd liked each other." 

I had not meant to sound that way. I did not measure up to her 
specifications, I said, and then I laughed. 

"She was looking for a man," I said. "What's that poem — about 
asking Abraham Lincoln to give us a man?" 

He had not heard of it, though he liked some poetry, and he asked 
if I was married now, and the memory of Helen and Camilla came 
back forcibly, as it did sometimes. Then we started to go through 
that little ceremony of showing photographs of our wives and chil- 
dren, and I remember the General's saying, when he drew a wallet 
from his inside pocket, that he wished he had one of Muriel 
when she was younger. He had lost his snapshot of the two boys, 
but they were good boys, real army brats. One of them was a 
lieutenant in the Pacific and the other was getting ready for the 

"I wish I had a better photograph of Muriel," he said. 

But I did not have a chance to see Muriel that evening, because, 
just as he was going to hand me the picture, Dottie came out of the 
bedroom wearing a black evening dress that looked as though it 
had never been in a suitcase. 

"What are you doing with the wallets?" Dottie asked. 

"Oh," I said, "just looking at our wives." 

"Oh dear," Dottie said, "am I intruding?" 


"As long as our wives aren't here," I said, "it's nice that some 
understanding woman is." 

"Muriel has never seen Paris," the General said. "She's always 
wanted to. I wish you could both meet Muriel." 

"I hope I can meet her sometime when the war is over," Dottie 
said. "I'm glad I'm not a soldier's wife, especially a handsome sol- 
dier's wife." 

"Does that mean me?" the General asked. 

Dottie's nose wrinkled as she smiled at him. "Sid, darling, you're 
not being a good barkeep," she said. "Mix me my Martini." 

The shadow of that unknown Muriel dissipated itself quite rap- 
idly as wives' shadows customarily did in the ETO. It was no one's 
fault that it was hard to keep memories of wives perpetually green in 
that extreme and changing environment, even with the aid of the 
photographs and love-gauges that one carried overseas. The Euro- 
pean Theater of Operations was not a place where home ties fitted 
into a successful design for living. Memory interfered with work, 
and if you thought too much about past domesticity, you became a 
maladjusted burden. Instead it was advisable to think of home as a 
Never-Never Land, and of your present milieu as a region with 
drives and emotional values that no one at home could possibly 
comprehend. It was just as well to believe that the things you did 
and said in this milieu into which you were thrust in order to keep 
your land safe and your loved ones secure, would have no effect 
whatsoever on what went on at home. Some day we would all get 
safely back to that Never-Never Land. Some might never return, 
but this would not be true of us as individuals. We would get back, 
and this Great Adventure would be the tale of an idiot. If you did 
not have this philosophy, you would not be a useful soldier. 

The shadow of Muriel was vanishing as the shadow should of any 
well-trained army wife, and if the shadows of Helen and Camilla re- 
mained a little longer in that apartment at the Ritz, they were dis- 
tinctly my shadows, and I was simply an innocent bystander. The 
General was the central figure, and Mel Goodwin — I began calling 
him Mel occasionally because it fitted our escapist mood — was be- 
ginning to have a very good time. By the time our dinner arrived, 

8 7 

the house, and she knew the maitre d'hotel knew his fine. It must 
not be caramelise. She shook her finger at the maitre d'hotel, and 
her simple diamond bracelet glittered, the only important piece of 
jewelry she brought on the trip. I could see that she was proud of 
the word caramelise. 

"Darling," she said to me, "do you remember when you bought 
me the first champagne I ever tasted?" 

That was quite a while ago. I had bought her a bottle of Bollinger 
at a speakeasy on Murray Hill while she was still working on the 
newspaper, and her bringing it up made me feel like an old roue, 
now grown settled and harmless, raking for embers in the ashes — 
nothing to worry Mel Goodwin. 

"Champagne but not the bracelet, Dot," I said. 

"YouVe damned well right," Dottie answered, "not the bracelet, 

The mention of diamonds cast a small shadow over us, but it was 
soon wafted away like the shadow of Muriel. 

It was really a wonderful dinner, and there was no further effort 
or worry about what to say to the General after the duck and the 
champagne, because the General had begun to talk about himself. 

"Sid here knows what I mean," he kept saying. 

Naturally I felt flattered each time he said it, and now and then I 
could almost believe that I had seen a lot of service, although I was 
always careful to tell him that the army had only picked me up be- 
cause I knew how to run a typewriter. 

"Just the same, Sid knows what I mean," the General said. "I 
wish I could take you up forward with me, Sid." 

"I wouldn't be any good, Mel," I said. 

"You were all right at Saint-L6," he said. Even Dottie was pleased 
at this — in a maternal way. 

He said that frankly he never felt at home when he was in a rear 
area. He was not a politician and he never had been, and that was 
why he could not thank Dottie enough for having him here. Other- 
wise he would have been at some mess with a lot of smooth manipu- 
lators and Cocktail Joes. It was better where the guns were going 
off. He knew his way around at the front, where things were sim- 


pier, and Sid knew what he meant. Up there people had to come 
across or they'd be sent back. He could always understand what 
motivated troops. You could look at men's faces and tell just how 
much further you could push them, and Sid knew what he meant. 
There was nothing like the feeling that you had the confidence of 
troops. Loyalty came from the bottom up and not from the top 
down, in his experience. Troops never went back on you if you 
knew troops, and Sid knew what he meant. The old Silver Leaf 
was a good division because it had good troops and battle-wise offi- 
cers, not just paper pushers who were too good to die. That was what 
hurt, and Sid knew what he meant. You had to estimate casualties, 
but you never could get immune to them. Now for example, there 
outside of Maule, there was a situation with tanks. There was no 
time to mill around. You had to keep them moving. Sid knew what 
he meant. You had to treat troops like kids sometimes, if you were 
to keep them moving. You had to show them you could do it, too, 
even if it was childish. He drove his jeep out ahead of the tanks just 
to get them going. It was not good judgment and he had no business 
out there, but it worked. You had to keep them moving. 

Dottie sat in an armchair with her feet curled under her, listening. 

"You mean you were out ahead of everything?'* she asked. She 
was listening but she could only follow part of it. 

"I shouldn't have mentioned it," the General said. "It was a foolish 
sort of thing to do." 

"I'm awfully glad you did," Dottie said. "It makes me sure that 
everything I think about you is true." 

Her voice made me realize, now that dinner was over, that neither 
Dottie nor the General needed me any more. The thing that he 
hated worst, he was saying, was the period just before troops were 
committed to action, when you had to walk around among them and 
talk to them. He no longer said that Sid knew what he meant. 

"You know," he said, "talking like this gets a lot of things clear 
in my own mind. That thing you said this afternoon about my being 
sure — that's an interesting thought. You've got to be sure of the 
whole works. You've got to know the whole thing behind you is 
going to move ahead. What is that poem about Ulysses?" 


"What poem about Ulysses?" Dottie asked. 

"That poem," the General said, and he snapped his fingers as 
though this would stimulate his memory, "that one by Tennyson." 

"Oh, I know the one you mean," Dottie said. "It's about the row- 
ers and Ulysses going to sea again." 

"That's it," the General said, "because he couldn't sit still. . . . 
'Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows.' " 

None of us spoke for a moment. I had not thought of General 
Goodwin as emotional until then. He sat staring in front of him, 
and then he looked at his watch. 

"Don't," Dottie said, and she put her hand on his arm. "It isn't 
time to go." 

"Well, maybe it isn't if you say so," the General said, "but I've got 
my car waiting. Someone had better send it away." 

He was not suggesting that I should do it, but it was time for me 
to go. It was none of my business any longer how Mel Goodwin or 
Dottie spent the rest of the night. Things had moved to a conclu- 
sion, and a part of the conclusion was that it was time for me to go. 
Also, it was not a time to call him Mel. 

"I'll tell your driver, sir," I said. "I've got to get some sleep. 
The group is going to do something or other tomorrow at half past 

"Sid, I simply can't go tomorrow morning," Dottie said. "I've got 
a dreadful headache, I mean a dreadful, diplomatic headache." 

"Well, it was a good diplomatic dinner," I said. 

"I'll see you tomorrow, Sid," the General said. 

"I certainly hope so, sir," I said. 

"Good night, dear," Dottie said, and she kissed me. 

Neither Dottie nor the General spoke as I left the room, and their 
silence urged me to leave it quickly. It was a quarter to one in the 
morning I saw as I looked at my watch, and when I closed the door 
the echo of "the sounding furrows" lay there behind me. 

The manner in which Mel Goodwin and Dottie Peale spent their 
spare time should certainly have been no concern of mine. I am con- 
vinced that I was not jealous, though Helen said I was when I told 


her the story that night at Savin Hill. I was not theoretically disap- 
proving, for in wartime one developed a delightful tolerance concern- 
ing who was sleeping with whom and why. War, whatever it might 
do to improve broad-mindedness, fortitude and capacity for self- 
sacrifice, was not calculated to bolster the abstinences of the flesh. Be- 
sides, Paris was Paris, and even in peacetime that magnificent city, 
once one of the most gallant, and still one of the most tolerant in the 
world, acted as an aphrodisiac to foreign visitors. 

The European Theater of Operations, even in its most antiseptic 
periods, was never conducive to the small refinements or the dal- 
liances of romance. Emotions and desires were expressed there in 
very direct terms, and nobody cared much what you did as long as 
you didn't do it all over the place and as long as it did not interfere 
too much with the fixed routine of duty. Yet there were some limits 
in the ETO, particularly for generals. What annoyed me, I think, 
about those few days of pilfered bliss, aside from the blatant ob- 
viousness and the crudity of the whole affair, was the naivete dis- 
played by Melville A. Goodwin. It was unbecoming and absurd, at 
least so it seemed to me, that the General at his age should have 
acted like a first lieutenant. Granted he had fallen for Dottie like a 
ton of bricks, there was no reason why he should have fallen flat on 
his face in public. There was no reason, either, why he should have 
attached himself to the VIP group and have followed them to USO 
and Red Cross installations and even to the tomb of the unknown 
soldier. He need not have gravitated to Dottie 's side on every pos- 
sible occasion nor have displayed an air of lovesick comedy even in 
the way he helped her on and off with her mink coat. 

There was no reason either for Dottie to look continually like the 
cat that had swallowed the canary. Granted he was a major general, 
there were plenty of others like him; but I did not mind about Dot- 
tie. After all, the General was a feather in her hat and something to 
talk about later, and you had to do something for the boys in those 
days, if only out of patriotism — but I felt sorry for the General, in 
his ostrichlike obtuseness. He should have realized that just as soon 
as I sent his driver home, everyone at the motor pool would know 
what had happened at the Ritz and he might have refrained from 


taking Dottie conspicuously around in his car afterwards — but I 
suppose she liked the two-star insignia. 

At about noon the next day the General appeared at the bar of 
the Ritz and seeing me there made him slightly self-conscious, al- 
though he was very genial. 

"Well, hello, Sid," he said. "We had a lot of fun last night, didn't 

"Yes, we certainly did," I said. 

He looked at me uncertainly and then he smiled. 

"Oh, hell," he said, "why not admit it?" 

"Why not?" I said. "It's easier." 

Then he looked at me in a hard way, because, after all, troops were 

"I admit it and I'm proud of it." 

"Well, that's fine," I told him. 

"I'm proud of it," he said, "but I don't want any of this to hurt 
anyone. You understand?" 

He must have seen that I did not like the way he said it. 

"I'm not referring to you, Sid," he said. "I don't see any reason 
why there should be any talk. Do you?" 

"No," I said, "not particularly." 

"What the hell do you mean," he asked, "by 'not particularly'?" 

"Well, there's your driver," I said. 

"Oh," he said, "don't worry. That boy's been around, but I 
wouldn't want anything in any way to reflect on . . ." 

He did not finish what he had to say because Dottie appeared at 
that moment. 

"Oh," she said to the General, "I'm sorry I've kept you waiting, sir. 
Oh, Sid, here you are, too." 

"Yes," I said, "here I am." 

She was in her tailored suit again with a gold pin at her throat, 
and as usual she looked as though she had slept for hours. 

"Sid, darling," she said, "Mel wants to go with us to see Napo- 
leon's tomb. He's never seen it. I think he ought to, don't you?" 

"Yes," I said, "but don't you think it would be just as well if he 
saw it some other time?" 


"Oh, Sid," she said, "don't be so stuffy, darling. This is Paris." 

"You're damned well right it is," I said. 

"Sit down, Dottie," the General said, "and let me take your coat. 
We ought to have a drink before we see the tomb. What do you 
want to drink, Dottie?" 

"Oh, Mel," Dottie said, "imagine your not knowing — a double 
Martini, dear." 

"That's right," the General said, "imagine my not knowing." 

"Listen," I said. "Everybody else will be here in a minute. Why 
not put off visiting that tomb?" 

"Oh, Sid," Dottie said, "don't be so sour just because you see I'm 
happy," and she scowled at me and then she watched the General, 
who had gone to the bar himself to order her double Martini. 

"Well, stop looking as though you'd swallowed a canary," I 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "he isn't really a canary," and then she held 
my hand for a minute under the table. "Darling," she whispered, 
"do you know, I really think I love him." 

"Well, that's swell," I said, "but don't love him in the bar" — I 
spoke very quickly because the General was coming back, carrying 
her double Martini himself — "Just remember, Dot, he's a pretty 
simple guy." 

"And I'm pretty sick of complicated guys," she said. 

It was rather touching to see the proud, happy expression on the 
General's face as he carried the Martini. At any rate, it was none of 
my business, and we were going to Aachen on Wednesday. It would 
all be over on Wednesday. 

My duties at that period were exclusively limited to interpreting 
the wants and desires of my company of trained seals and to seeing 
that everyone was reasonably comfortable and happy and understood 
and loved the army, and these duties were onerous and absorbing. 
What Dottie did and what Mel Goodwin did fell entirely beyond 
my sphere of responsibility, but when I told Helen that night at 
Savin Hill that I had been disappointed in the General, she said that 
I had not been disappointed but repeated that I was jealous — not 
actively perhaps, but at any rate subconsciously. 


"You know," Helen said, "you used to be half in love with her. 
You were when I first saw you." 

There was no reason whatsoever for Helen to make me into a 
character in that romance at the Ritz. I had evidently not given my 
reminiscences the proper values, something that often happened 
when I told things to Helen, though no one's wife, who had re- 
mained in the Never-Never Land with other loved ones, could be 
expected to grasp what one thought or felt in the ETO. She could 
not understand why I seemed to think of Mel Goodwin as being too 
good for what had happened to him at the Ritz, and then exasperat- 
ingly Helen went off on another tangent. 

"Sid," she asked me, "were you faithful to me in the ETO?" 

I did not even have to say that I was faithful to her, Cynara, in 
my own fashion, and if she did not believe me, there was nothing 
further I could add to reassure her, especially since Helen had been 
reading recently about the sex habits of the American male. She 
simply did not understand that there were not many women in the 
ETO. She seemed to have convinced herself that there had been 
Wacs and Waves and Red Cross girls and theatrical entertainers 
over there by the million. It was hard to make her realize that the 
competition had been terrific and that I had never cared much for 

"But, Sid," she said, "you know you're very attractive.'* 

"You don't seem to realize," I said, "that a different sort of attrac- 
tion was needed over there." 

It did not reassure her when I told her that a surprisingly large 
percentage of men in the ETO had been faithful to their wives and 
sweethearts, if only through stress of circumstance or because they 
were not fast workers. # 

"You boys," Helen said, "always stick together." 

It was just as well to leave it at that, and perhaps we boys always 
did stick together, and this may have been why I found myself de- 
fending Melville Goodwin. In fact, for a little while back there in 
Paris I was considered an authority on the love life of General Mel- 
ville Goodwin by many high-ranking officers. 

The morning I called to discuss the final arrangements for the 

9 6 

departure of the VIPs from Paris, I found that the officer in charge 
was one of Mel Goodwin's contemporaries, a harassed-looking man 
whose name was Struthers. At least he was harassed at the moment, 
as people usually were when they embarked on VIP planning. When 
we had finished with the details of our paper work, he asked me 
to close the door and offered me a cigar. 

"Say, Skelton," Colonel Struthers said, "you must have quite a 
time running that three-ring circus." 

I told him it was a very broadening experience. The colonel lighted 
a cigar carefully and looked at the ceiling. 

"What's your reaction to all this about Mel Goodwin?" he asked. 

"What about him, sir?" I asked. 

He appeared relieved by my question, since it indicated that I 
had tact and discretion, even though I had not been educated at the 

"I have served with Mel," he said, "out in the Philippines. We 
used to have quite a time at Baguio — I wonder if those damn Japs 
have messed up Baguio." 

"I wouldn't know, sir," I said, "but it must have been quite a 
place from what I've heard." 

"Yes," the colonel said, "Baguio is quite a place — cool up there 
in the hills. You wouldn't believe there could be such a quick change 
in climate." 

His thoughts had moved to Baguio, and I could not follow them. 

"Mel's had a lot on his mind," he said. "This is ofif the record, 
you understand. I'm a friend of General Goodwin's, and she's not 
a bad-looking gal, not bad-looking at all." 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

"Someone was saying you used to know her," the colonel said, 
"back on a newspaper or somewhere. She looks pretty good-looking 
to have been on a newspaper." 

"There are good-looking girls," I said, "on newspapers occa- 

"It's all right for Mel to have a good time," the colonel said, "but 
I'm a friend of his.'* 

"Yes, sir," I said. 


"Not that Mel needs friends," the colonel said, "and he deserves 
to have a good time.'* 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

"But it isn't like him. I've never seen Mel step off like that. It's 
all contrary to his record." 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

"Men are damn peculiar about women, particularly when they 
haven't seen any for quite a while." 

"Yes, sir." 

"Well, maybe it's just as well she's moving out on Wednesday," 
the colonel said. "These things get around. It would be different if 
he'd been a ladies' man previously." 

"Yes, sir." 

"Well, I'm glad we've had a frank talk about this. There are al- 
ways jealousies in the service, and there are some damn fools who 
don't like Mel. If there's anything you can do personally to keep 
things normal, it might be a help, Skelton. People like Mel and me 
have to stay in this army when the war's over.'* 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

"This is all confidential. I don't have to tell you that, do I?" 

"No, sir." 

"Well, come and see me," the colonel said, "any time you're in 
Paris. I've got a nice apartment with everything under control. I wish 
I'd told Mel about it. Well, good-by and good luck.'* 

It was a relief to know that I was not being stuffy, but strictly pro- 
fessional, in worrying about Melville Goodwin's private life. Some- 
one was always bound to notice when a general stuck his neck out. 
Someone was always looking for a flaw in a general's personal 

9 8 

Always More Brass Where He Came From 

Tuesday was a very busy day what with checking orders and get- 
ting out mimeographed itineraries and briefing the VIPs on con- 
ditions in the forward areas. It was necessary to tell them that they 
would have comfortable, warm quarters, good food and occasional 
other forms of sustenance, but still, life would not be quite as soft as 
in Paris and they would have to excuse the army if the trip occa- 
sionally assumed a camping-out aspect. For example, each VIP 
would be issued an emergency ration just in case the system should 
break down. There was never any serious possibility of this hap- 
pening, however, because of the interest taken in the trip by the 
high echelons. In order to make everything absolutely watertight, 
it was decided on Tuesday morning that Colonel Struthers himself, 
because of his familiarity with transport, should be put in general 
charge, but this did not take the personal details off my shoulders. 
I not only had to run errands for the colonel but I had to continue 
giving friendly advice about toothbrushes, cameras, shoes and foot 
powder. By four o'clock that afternoon, however, a short time was 
allowed me to do my own packing. I was up in my room right 
in the middle of it when the General knocked on my door. 

"Go right ahead," he said. "Don't mind me." And he sat on the 
edge of the bed while I continued putting things into my kit bag. 

"Dottie's packing up, too," he said. "She says I make her nervous 
watching. She told me to run out for half an hour. You don't mind 
my waiting here, do you?" 

I told him to wait as long as he liked and that there was some rye 
in the bathroom but that I was short of Scotch. 

"Dottie really knows how to pack, doesn't she?" he said. 


Dottie was the only one in that crowd who could put things in 
her suitcases and know where everything was afterwards. She was 
one of those people who could move into a strange room for over- 
night and be all settled in ten minutes. 

"Yes, she's certainly good at it," I said. "Has she got a headache?" 

From the way the General hitched himself back on the bed 
you could see that he was used to making himself comfortable 

"Yes, another of those headaches," he said. "She won't be able to 
attend the dinner tonight. She's been quite a headachey girl lately, 
hasn't she?" 

"Yes," I said. "They call it migraine in French." 

The General laughed as though I had said something that only he 
and I could understand. 

"That's right," he said. "Sid, did anyone ever tell you you're a 
damn nice guy?" 

"Not very frequently," I answered. 

"Well, I'm telling you." 

"Well, thanks a lot," I told him. 

"You know, once when I was finishing with Tank School at Ben- 
ning," the General said, "I acquired a dog. He was just a mutt, but 
he kind of attached himself to me. I couldn't seem to get rid of him, 
and I remember how he looked when I was packing up to leave. 
He knew sure as fate we would never see each other again. He 
couldn't read but he knew I was ordered to Hawaii. He didn't know 
Mrs. Goodwin but he knew Muriel didn't like dogs. He knew he 
wouldn't make the boat, and I was packing. Well, that's the way I 
feel this afternoon." 

"There's some rye in the bathroom, sir," I said. 

"I don't need any God-damned rye," the General said. "I don't 
believe in drinking when I'm emotional. God damn it, I can't believe 
this is over." 

The General stood up, paced across the room and back and sat 
down again. 

"Maybe it's just as well," he said, "everything considered. You 
know how I feel, don't you?" 


"Yes," I said, "I've got a working idea." 

"You don't mind my talking to you frankly, do you ? " the General 
said. "My God, I've got to talk to somebody." 

"No, of course I don't mind," I said. 

"Maybe I'm not used to this sort of thing," the General said. "It 
doesn't fall into any regular category with me. It's separate. It hasn't 
got anything to do with anything else, but I'm proud of the whole 
damn thing. You see what I mean?" 

"Yes, I see what you mean," I said. "It's a pretty good way to 

The General stood up again. 

"Sid," he said, "I've been thinking something over. Dottie and I 
were talking about it. My aide got killed last month. I consider aides 
expendable. If I asked for you, would you like the job?" 

Dottie always liked to maneuver things, but it was also kind of 
the General to think of me. 

"Yes, sir," I said, "I'd like it, but I don't think it would look 
well under the circumstances, do you?" 

"No," he said, "I don't suppose it would, under the circumstances." 

"Well, thanks just as much," I said. 

Even though I was not sure whether it was Dottie's or his idea, 
it was the pleasantest invitation I had received in the course of the 

"Sid," he said, "do you mind if I ask you a personal question? 
Why didn't you ever marry Dottie?" 

"I told you before," I said, "that I haven't got what it takes." 

"Well, I'd have done it if I'd been you," he said. 

"Maybe she wouldn't have married you either," I said. 

As I looked at him standing there in his worn, carefully pressed 
uniform, with its rows of ribbons and gold service stripes, I thought 
that he was safe as far as Dottie was concerned. After all, there were 
a good many major generals — but I had not expected him to follow 
my thoughts so closely. 

"I know what you mean," he said. "I haven't got brass enough, 
have I? Why not let's go down to Dottie's room and have a fare- 
well drink?" 


"No thanks," I said, "I'm pretty busy, sir." 

"Well, then 111 j-ust say good-by," he said. "You're a nice guy. 
Good luck.'* 

"Good-by and good luck, sir," I told him. 

You were always meeting people and saying good-by and good 
luck in the ETO. I was reasonably sure that I would never see 
General Melville A. Goodwin again. 

When his hand was on the doorknob, he turned back to me for a 
moment and he had changed subtly and completely. He looked 
again like any other general officer, composed, assured and removed 
from the ordinary strain of human relationships. He had withdrawn 
to the dignity of his rank, and whether you liked to admit it or not, 
rank did have a dignity and commanded respect, for it was almost 
the only reality on which one could depend in an environment of 
change and uncertainty. Although he smiled agreeably, his whole 
mood and pattern of behavior had altered in those few seconds. He 
was like an actor with whom one chatted in the dressing room, who 
suddenly became the playwright's character when told that he would 
go on in another minute. 

"So long, young feller," he said. "I'll see you in church sometime." 

He did not intend to put me in my place, but I do believe that he 
felt some need to put himself into his own and that he needed the 
reassurance of a sense of position. I felt in that last glimpse of him 
that many of the ordinary ties of human relationship and of friend- 
ship were denied him. He could have enemies and faithful subordi- 
nates and obsequious bootlickers, but he could have no friends in 
the conventional sense. He had attained the category of power that 
made friendship and sympathy a weakness. He was a piece on the 
chessboard again, remote, insulated and alone. 

I saw Dottie for a moment the next morning outside the Ritz just 
before she took her place in one of the fine new automobiles supplied 
for the party. It was raining and nothing could be colder than 
French rain. She was dressed in a Wac uniform, because all the 
VIPs had been put into some sort of uniform for their forward jour- 
ney. In addition she was wrapped in a trench coat that was too large 


for her and which I could guess the General had given her. If so, it 
was a useful going-away present. She had fixed things so that she 
could ride with Colonel Struthers at the head of the procession, and 
the colonel looked delighted. I don't know how she had arranged 
this without seeming to push or be arrogant, but Dottie was always 
expert at getting where she wanted, gently and sweetly, but firmly, 
and she always managed to look surprised when she got there. Her 
face was already wet from the driving rain and she must have known 
that this might happen. She must have deliberately discarded 
powder and lipstick, depending on the foul weather to give her 

"Well," she said when she saw me, "that's that," and she wrin- 
kled her nose and shook her head, and with that shake she seemed 
to have shaken off the Ritz and everything. She was off on a new 
adventure, riding up front with the colonel, and she had become 
very military. Dottie was always quick in picking up mannerisms 
from people around her, and I could see at once that she had learned 
a lot from General Goodwin. They used to say the way to learn a 
language was to have a sleeping dictionary, but I did not tell her that. 
She was looking at the row of automobiles with an expert and dis- 
approving eye, and then she glanced at her wrist watch. It was a 
new waterproof timepiece which I had never before seen on Dottie, 
though I had noticed the General wearing one like it. 

"Why can't we get rolling?" she asked. "Why don't we put the 
show on the road?" 

These expressions, none of which Dottie had ever employed before, 
sounded crisp and convincing. 

"Why don't you blow a whistle — "I told her — "two sharp blasts ? " 

"God damn it," Dottie said, "why don't you blow a whistle? 
That's what you're here for, isn't it?" 

Her voice had a new ring of authority, and even the colonel, who 
stood beside her, appeared to feel its contagion. 

"Major," he said, "get these people into the cars. Let's get cracking. 
We're due to take off at o-eight-hundred. Will you come with me 
please, Mrs. Peale?" 

It was a rough, hard day, even in the new cars. The road had been 


churned up by truck convoys and the rain came down steadily, so 
that, in spite of getting cracking, the show stayed on the road two 
hours longer than scheduled. It was pitch dark and still raining 
when we arrived at a mediocre northern-France hotel in a provincial 
town on one of the main supply routes. As usual the red carpet was 
out for the VIPs. 

We were met by officers of the Quartermaster Corps, who had 
everything taped up and rooms assigned, and there was even a 
Chemical Warfare general to greet us. The dining room was deco- 
rated with streamers — red, white and blue. There were cold-storage 
turkeys for dinner, and there was a Quartermaster colonel to give a 
talk with diagrams on the complications of moving supplies forward. 
I had no chance to talk to Dottie, and there would have been no op- 
portunity later that evening what with the Chemical general and 
three doctors, if one of the lady novelists had not objected to her ac- 
commodations. She said that all of her windows leaked and she was 
not mollified until I offered to change rooms with her. I had not real- 
ized, though the colonel took it up playfully with me in the morning 
and several times later, that this room adjoined Dottie's and had a 
connecting door. As it was, the colonel only took it up playfully, say- 
ing I was pretty quick on my feet, what with one thing and another 
— but at any rate it was something which seemed unnecessary to ex- 
plain to Helen at Savin Hill. I actually had no idea that Dottie was 
in the adjoining room until she knocked on the connecting door at 
eleven o'clock that night. I had hung up some clothes to dry near a 
radiator that did not work, and I was sitting in a sway-backed chair 
under a single electric light bulb suspended from the ceiling, reading 
the essays of Montaigne. 

"Sid?" she said. "Sid?" 

"Yes," I answered, "what is it?" 

"After all that maneuvering of yours downstairs," Dottie said, 
"don't you think you might at least open this damn door?" The door 
was not hard to open. In my experience French hotel room doors 
seldom were, especially in northern provincial towns. 

Dottie's room also was lighted by a single electric bulb. Her Wac 
uniform was carefully folded on another sway-backed armchair. Her 


trench coat was suspended on a hanger. She was heating some hot 
water in a canteen cup over a canned-alcohol burner, and there were 
two glasses and a bottle of whisky on the table beside it. Dottie was 
in a belted Jaeger dressing gown and slippers, and her hair was 
freshly brushed, and her gold-backed brush and tortoise-shell comb 
and traveling clock were on the bedside table. The alcohol flame gave 
a warm, pleasant glow, and the whole place smelled of Chanel Five. 

"I wasn't maneuvering downstairs," I said. "I didn't know where 
they'd put you." 

"Well, at least you might pretend you were," Dottie said. "My 
God, that colonel was maneuvering." 

"Which colonel?" I asked. 

"Any colonel," Dottie said. "Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of all 
these men without women. They have such one-track minds. Dar- 
ling, I never seem to see you on this junket, and I'm awfully tired of 
coping with the unknown." She gave her head a quick shake and she 
sighed. "God, it's cold in here, and I feel awfully by myself tonight. 
I don't seem to know what I'm doing or why I've ever done anything 
or what I'm for. Do you ever feel that way?" 

"Yes," I said, "a lot of people do, particularly around here." 

"Well, you never seem to show it," Dottie said. "You never seem 
to struggle or try to get anywhere. You're so damn self -sufficient. 
What's that book in your hand?" 

"Montaigne," I said. 

"Jesus," Dottie said. "Montaigne in the rain. Well, anyway it's like 
you. You used to read that to me, remember?" 

"Yes," I said, "I remember." 

"Was that why you were reading it tonight ? " 

"Why, no," I said. "I've always liked Montaigne." 

"Well, Sid," she began. 

"Yes?" I said. 

"I wish you'd put that damn book down, and would you mind 
kissing me, at least in a friendly way? I wouldn't feel so much 

I was very glad to kiss her in a friendly way, although it did not 
seem necessary to tell Helen about this either at Savin Hill. 


"Darling," she said, "I wish we didn't know so much about each 

"I thought you were tired of the unknown," I said. 

"Darling," she said, "I don't know what I'm tired of. Let's have 
some whisky and hot water. God, it's cold." 

Then she told me to sit down on the bed or on the chair, but to 
wait until she had taken the clothes off the chair and hung them up. 
She said that I was always so untidy she could not see how Helen 
stood me, but then maybe Helen was untidy herself in a wild, at- 
tractive way that absolutely suited her. 

"At least we don't have to worry about what we're saying when 
we talk to each other," she said. "Sid, maybe you were right." 

When I asked what I'd been right about, she took a swallow of 
her whisky and hot water and sighed again. 

"You said he was pretty simple. Maybe you're right. It was all 
pretty damn simple," she said, and she sat on the bed and curled her 
feet under her. "Henry was simple in a way, but he wasn't in that 

Of course I knew she would talk about Mel Goodwin, and curi- 
ously there was nothing indelicate about it, especially in that bare, 
ugly room with the sound of the trucks outside rolling steadily 
through the night. 

"In what way?" I asked. 

"Darling, he knows all the answers in his book of rules," she said. 
"He merely has to look in the index. He's so sure of himself — but 
maybe his book is wrong. Most of mine has been. It would be awful 
for him if his book let him down." 

It was not a bad way of describing Mel Goodwin's certainty. 

"He would still be right in there," I said, "smiting the furrows." 

"Yes," she said, "and that's something. Right or wrong he would 
go right on smiting, wouldn't he ? He was awfully sweet. He couldn't 
have been sweeter." 

I winced at that old phrase of hers when she applied it to Mel 

"I wonder why it is," I said, "that you always expect too much of 

1 06 

"I know, dear, I know," she answered, "but it isn't really expect- 
ing. I begin thinking how much I could do for a man if I had the 
chance. You know that, Sid. It isn't expecting. It's only wanting 
someone to be the way I want him." 

She never had wanted anyone the way he was. 

"Did you notice that he was all wound up?" she said. "Maybe you 
didn't because I didn't think so at first. God, darling, he simply 
couldn't unwind . . . and it was always out of the book. Do you 
know what he kept saying the answer to everything was?" 

"Git thar fastest with the mostest men" I said. 

"No, no," she said, "but of course that came in, too. The answer to 
everything, he said, is to estimate a situation and then take action. 
Even if the something you do is wrong, it's better than doing noth- 
ing. Darling, he said it at least five times. I don't mean that it got on 
my nerves but I can't stop thinking of it, because it isn't so. I'm al- 
ways doing something, but actually I'm doing nothing. What's the 
use in positive action?" 

"It's pretty useful for him," I said. "Why can't you accept people 
for what they are?" 

"Because I want them to be better," she said. "Darling, if I were 
to put my mind on it, I could do a lot for him. He kept saying he'd 
like to be a corps commander. Do you think he could ever command 
a Group?" 

That restive energy of Dottie's was always disconcerting, or at 
least it had always disconcerted me. In any situation and in any place, 
however unfamiliar, Dottie was congenitally unable to leave things 
as they were. Weary though she may have been from coping with the 
unknown, she was still trying to find the pivots and the balances. She 
always liked to understand people, as she said. It made no difference 
that she did not know definitely what a Group meant in tables of 
organization. She had already acquired a smattering of knowledge 
from Melville Goodwin, and now she was devising some way to 
move him upward and onward. She had tried to move me upward 
once, and even the memory made me uncomfortable. 

"Listen, Dot," I told her, "why don't you relax and stop trying to 
be a Joan of Arc?" 


"God damn it," Dottie said, and her voice had a snap which 
sounded exactly like Mel Goodwin's, "what's Joan of Arc got to do 
with it?" 

"Well," I said, "she tried to win a war." 

"Darling," Dottie said, and she helped herself to more whisky and 
water, "I know perfectly well that war is a man's business. From my 
experience it's the most completely, utterly male pursuit I've ever 
seen, and I'm awfully tired of hearing about relaxing. I'm asking you 
a perfectly simple, intelligent question, and you do have brains if you 
want to use them. Or perhaps you don't think I'm intelligent enough 
for this sort of conversation?" 

"Oh, yes," I said, "I think so." 

"All right," Dottie said, "then answer me. Do you or don't you 
think Goodwin could command a Group?" 

"If you're talking about an Army Corps, you might ask General 
Eisenhower," I told her. "He'd have some idea." 

"That's a very thoughtful suggestion," Dottie said, "and I'll re- 
member to ask him if I see him, but right now he isn't here." 

"Then why don't you relax," I told her, "or else try General 

"Darling," Dottie said, "I don't believe that Mel is a Marshall 

It was always wiser not to underestimate Dottie's capacities, but 
I had never realized until then that Melville Goodwin might interest 
her more than temporarily. 

"Now listen, Dot," I said, "Mel Goodwin has troubles of his own. 
Don't give him any more by asking questions about him. Things like 
that get around." 

"Darling, I can't help being interested," Dottie said, "and you don't 
mind my talking, do you? I'm just pretending. You know I love 
moving things around. Now if I had been his wife . . ." 

"But you're not his wife," I said. "You can't be everything." 

"If I had been his wife," Dottie continued, "I would have seen that 
we saw a great deal of the Marshalls." 

She sighed and stared ahead of her, lost in her own thoughts. She 
was Mrs. Melville Goodwin. She was undoubtedly arranging in her 


imagination a quiet little dinner with the Marshalls, prewar, prefer- 
ably in Hawaii, and Colonel Marshall, or whatever rank he held in 
those days, was on her right, and she was telling him how brilliantly 
Mel had worked out his problem in the war games. She would not 
be pushing Mel too much. She would know exactly when to stop, but 
she would make George see Mel's future as she saw it. She looked as 
though she were thinking of a Christmas tree as she sat there si- 
lently. Mel could have been Bradley or Eisenhower just as well as 
not, if she had been married to Mel. She did not know much about 
army wives, but she could have learned, and now she was an army 
wife. Perhaps it was Washington she was thinking about or the 
United States Embassy in Berlin before the war, and Mel was the 
attache, and they were giving another small dinner. She sighed and 
looked up at me. 

"I wonder what his wife is like,'* she said. 

"Now, Dot," I said, "leave the poor guy alone." 

"Darling," she sighed, "he's so easy to get on with and he does 
have a certain kind of ambition. I think he has some very good ideas 
about fire power. He knows a lot about tanks and new weapons." 

"For God's sake, Dot," I said, "leave that poor guy alone." 

The urgency of my tone made her stop. She had laid the General 
aside for the moment, and now I was the problem. 

"I don't know why it is you're completely lacking in ambition, 
darling," she said. "You've been complaining about all this public 
relations thing you're doing, and when I try to get you out of it, you 
refuse. Mel said he asked you to go up there with him. He said he 
could arrange it." 

I pushed myself up out of the rickety armchair and took a step 
toward the bed where she was sitting with her feet curled under her. 

"Now, Dot," I said, "I knew perfectly well why he asked me." 

"Darling," Dottie said, "don't you like it when I try to do some- 
thing for you?" 

"No," I said, "it makes me very nervous, Dot." 

"Oh dear," Dottie said, "I wish you were a little different, just a 
very little different — and we could have done so much together, 


"Well, I'm not different," I said. 

"Oh, Sid," Dottie said, "I don't know why you're so impossible. 
Sid, please don't look at me in that critical way. Pour yourself another 
drink. I'm just thinking out loud. You don't think I'm really serious 
about Mel Goodwin, do you? I know just as well as you do that he 
can handle a division, and that's probably as far as he can go. He can 
run around end with his damn division, and I'm pretty tired of hear- 
ing about running around end. Darling, it was officious of me, inter- 
fering, but that's because I've always been in love with you in a cer- 
tain way. Sid, please don't be cross. I've completely eliminated Mel 

"Well, that's something," I told her. "I was getting sorry for that 
poor guy." 

"Darling," Dottie said, "I don't even see why you like him." 

"Leave him alone," I told her. "Go to work on someone else. For- 
get about him, Dot." 

"I'm awfully sorry I've been so dull, dear," Dottie said. "I didn't 
mean to be boring, just talking about myself. Let's talk about you 
and Helen and Camilla." 

It was a ridiculous suggestion, and she must have known it was. 

"Sid," she said, "you're not angry with me, are you? Or are you 
just disappointed?" 

"Oh, no," I said, "I'm not disappointed." 

"Oh, hell," Dottie said, and she stood up. "Here we are and we're 
not getting anywhere, and we never could. God, he was awfully dull 
once the brass wore ofT. They're all so damned dull and they have 
such fixed ideas. Well, you'd better kiss me good night now in a 
friendly way, and leave the door open. I feel so terribly alone." 

"Well, good night, Dot," I said. 

"Sid," she asked, "you aren't jealous about Mel Goodwin, are 

"No, not especially," I said. 

"Oh, the hell with it and the hell with him and the hell with 
you," Dottie said, "but you might at least kiss me good night 

I was very glad to kiss her good night again. It made the evening 


less boring than many Fd spent in the European Theater of Opera- 

Every experience comprises both a loss and gain. This, you may 
say, is a hysterical discovery of the obvious, but this resounding fact 
was first brought home to me when I returned from an eight months* 
stay in China shortly before the incident at the Marco Polo Bridge 
which precipitated the Japanese-Chinese War. When I boarded one 
of the Empress ships bound for Vancouver, and when we began 
moving in the dark down the Hwang Pu River to the sea, I left 
many intangibles behind me on the Shanghai Bund, among them a 
glittering assortment of enthusiasms and illusions. I had gone to 
China for a news syndicate, imbued with the idea so prevalent 
among newspapermen that some day I would write fiction and that 
all I required was experience with exotic backgrounds. I was leaving 
this idea behind me and carrying away in its place the disturbing dis- 
covery that the more I saw of the Orient the less equipped I was to 
reach conclusions. You could not simply board somewhere. You had 
to have a permanent stake in a land before you really knew any part 
of that land's meaning. An observer could have no stake in anything. 

I faced much the same series of reactions when I left the European 
Theater of Operations a few months after the German collapse, ex- 
cept that these were more acute because, when I left it, the ETO was 
already ceasing to be an entity. The pressures that had formed it had 
been removed, so that it was dissipating like bubbles in champagne. 
To those of us who had joined the army from civil life, its breaking 
up was not unlike the ending of a generation. We were all returning 
to the void of peace, and the regulations which had held us together, 
and even the friendships we had made, were losing most of their 
validity. Most of us would never meet again after leaving the ETO, 
and if we did, we would never remember what our relationships had 
been. We used to say, we uniformed civilians, that we could not wait 
for the time when we might encounter some of those Regular Army 
bastards who had arrogated superiority to themselves simply because 
they were part of the regular service and graduates of West Point. 
Yet oddly enough, when the occasion arrived, as it did now and then, 


for you to tell that so-and-so who had pushed you around exactly 
what you thought of him, you could scarcely remember what it was 
that had eaten at you so over there in Europe. 

I remember, for instance, that there was a Public Relations colonel 
in SHAEF who impressed me back there as the most arrogant and 
disagreeable person I had ever known. Though I never cared much 
for picking quarrels, I frequently used to fall asleep toying with the 
idea of picking a fight with him as soon as the war was over. Then 
suddenly in the summer of 1946, 1 met him at the bar at "21" in New 
York, and he bought me a drink and called me Sid and asked me if 
I didn't wish we were back there again in SHAEF. We certainly did 
have good times in SHAEF, and I found myself calling him Earl — 
Earl G. Roberts was his name. He seemed to have forgotten that he 
had threatened to prefer charges against me the last time we had 
met in Frankfurt. The cork had been pulled, and the champagne was 
very flat there in "21." Instead of feeling resentful, I was sorry for 
poor old Earl. He had been restored to line duty in the infantry and 
was on his way to Fort Benning down one rank. He no longer had 
anyone like me to push around. The ninety-day wonders were gone. 
I felt sorry for poor old Earl. 

The tumult and the shouting was dying, and the captains and the 
kings, all trained and postured at West Point, were departing to the 
dull routine that had made them — back to Bragg, back to Benning 
or the Presidio or Schofield or to any of those other places where they 
led their insulated lives, watching their rank, living on their base 
pay, or whatever it was they were always talking about, and being 
sure to dance with the CO's wife at the officers' club on Saturday 
night. They were gone, and a very good thing it was unless there was 
World War III, when assuredly they, or others like them, would 
come popping up again. They had performed a very necessary spe- 
cialized function, but, thank heaven, the rest of us whom they had 
tried to mold in their schools and by their lectures did not have to 
play at being soldiers any more. We did not have to try to strike their 
attitudes any more, or give them smart salutes right up from the 
heel. We did not have to remember all those complacent axioms 
from Army Regulations any more. We did not have to read and di- 


gest their windy mimeographed orders or stand at attention on the 
carpet taking their artistic bawlings out. They could not chew our 
rear ends off us any longer. We had tried but we could never be like 
them. You had to be caught young, or you had to be a boy at heart, 
to acquire the military mind. Heaven knows, most of us had sat up 
nights trying to acquire it, and heaven knows, in Public Relations 
we had tried to interpret it. It was curious how fast we were forget- 
ting these people already. The regulars had left their imprint on us s 
but the main outlines were growing dim. 

When Helen said that night at Savin Hill that she could not tell 
what General Goodwin was like from anything I had told her, I 
suddenly realized that I no longer knew, myself. You had to see him 
in a war. He belonged with its sights and smells, with its obsequious- 
nesses and its brutalities. 

"But you say you li\ed him," Helen said, "and he asked you to be 
his aide, didn't he?" 

"You don't like anybody there," I told her, "in the way you like 
people here." 

This was the truth. Liking in the ETO had an expendable sort of 
quality which you had to experience in order to comprehend. 

Helen did not speak for a long while, and finally I thought she had 
gone to sleep as I lay awake in the dark. My own mind was moving 
too restlessly for sleep. I was thinking of the General's plane and of 
the General sleeping in his reclining seat. Those people were like 
Napoleon. They could sleep anywhere at any time and wake up in a 

"Sid," Helen said, and I realized that I, too, was half asleep, "when 
he comes here, what are we going to do with him?" 

I had no idea what you could do with anyone like Major General 
Melville Goodwin in a place like Savin Hill, and I really was asleep 
when Helen spoke again. For a second as I awakened it was a tossup 
whether I was in the ETO or at Savin Hill. 

"Sid, I've been thinking," Helen told me. 

"Don't think," I told her. "Go to sleep." 

"You know, perhaps you could write something about General 


It was not unusual for Helen to get such an idea. Ever since she 
had first met me, she frequently suggested subjects on which I might 
write, and she still retained rather touching illusions as to my latent 

The thought of doing such a thing had never seriously crossed my 
mind. I never dreamed that night that the preparation of the con- 
densed biography of Melville Goodwin by the employees of a weekly 
news magazine would cause me to attempt to write about him. It 
was only later that I saw him as a quasi-Grecian figure moving along 
lines of almost inevitable tragedy. There was something about his 
pattern that was classic. In spite of his lexicon of rules, his life was 
beyond his control like the lives of all the rest of us. He was a part 
of the tapestry that the Norns were always weaving. He was fallible 
and infallible, perfect in his own setting and imperfect in any other. 
As I think of him now, I still like best to remember him when he 
was there at Savin Hill, bewildered by a problem for which he was 
not trained. As he told me himself, he never knew what he had got 
himself in for when he had brushed that Russian tommy gun away 
from his stomach in Berlin. 

ti 4 

It's Just the Old Man Taking Over 

When Phil Bentley reached me on the telephone the next morning 
and told me that he had been assigned the piece about the General, 
I thought he was a good one to do it and so did Art Hertz, who had 
come out to prepare my evening script. I had known Phil Bentley 
for a long while, in the half-close, half-casual way one does know 
people in newspaper work. I had met him first in Boston when he 
was a reporter on the Post, and later I saw something of him in 
Washington, where I had spent some time after I left the Paris 
Bureau. We had both helped out once at the same Senate hearing. 
I had seen him several times during the war, when he had gone 
out as a correspondent for the Digest. Like the rest of us, he had 
dropped by accident into his present position. He was an anomalous- 
looking person, thin, tall and dark, in his middle forties, wearing 
heavy tortoise-shell spectacles that indicated accurately his salary and 
editorial status. He had graduated from the catch-as-catch-can class 
and he deserved his promotion. He had a quick, concise narrative 
style and a flair for lighting on those personality trivia that weekly 
magazine editors love in profiles. He had been taken away from the 
New Yorker by his present employers, and he liked the change be- 
cause he said the New Yorker style made him self-conscious. He was 
thorough and he was quick without the curse of too much facility. 
Without his ever having to get tight at press clubs, all the news 
crowd knew him and liked him, which was a good thing for an 
editor on a weekly magazine. Colonel Flax in Public Relations had 
told him to call me up. 

"Well, I'm glad you know this Goodwin, Sid," he said, "because 
I never heard of him. Frary wants me to bring out photographers, 
but I don't see any point in it today. We've got two trailing him 


around in Washington. I'll follow him out from the plane. Are you 
sure you've got room for me?" 

Then he wanted to know if there was room for the research girl 
who was coming out with him and who would take the notes. Her 
name was Miss Myra Fineholt. 

"And I gather from Flax that you're going to be with Goodwin to 
hold his hand," he said. 

I told him that none of this was my idea, that I had only been 
asked to help out, and that we all had to do those things. He said it 
was one of those things that would have to be done fast before people 
forgot about the General. He said if it wasn't one thing it was an- 
other but that it would be pleasant to be there in the country and 
that he would like to see me again, now that I was in the higher in- 
come brackets. We were playful with each other but polite. I told 
him that there was room for the research girl and everybody. When 
it came to photographers, the broadcasting company was sending 
some. I could see he did not like the idea of being tied up with radio, 
but then he was getting his board and lodging. 

"Expect us at about four," Phil said. "It's going to be quite a 

It was not as large a party as I had been afraid it would be. Gilbert 
Frary was coming but he was not bringing his wife. There would 
only be the General and Mrs. Goodwin, Phil Bentley and the research 
girl, Gilbert and Colonel Flax and Helen and myself. Art Hertz and 
all the rest of them would dine somewhere else on their way home 
after the broadcast. It would really be a quiet evening, and now that 
all the arrangements were made, Helen was looking forward to it. 
All she would have to do was to be nice to Mrs. Goodwin, and prob- 
ably Mrs. Goodwin would want to take a nap before dinner, and 
that would leave only Gilbert Frary. 

We had been sitting at breakfast in our dressing room when Phil 
Bentley telephoned. The morning was as clear as a bell and filled 
with the brooding calm of Indian summer, and I was still finding it 
incredible that Camilla was already nine and that Helen was still 
happy with me and liked having me around. 

"Sid," she said, "look out of the window. Isn't it beautiful?" It was 


one of those days that made you say, without thinking that it had 
been said before, that October was the best month in the year. "I 
wish we could have it to ourselves, without extraneous things and 
people spoiling it. We always seem just to be starting having a life of 
our own and then something interrupts it. Perhaps we ought to have 
another baby." 

Helen had been talking quite a bit recently about having another 
baby, saying that we would have had one or two others by now if it 
had not been for the war, and Camilla herself had entered into the 
controversy, having just read an antiseptic little book entitled A Baby 
Is Born. 

"We haven't been here very long," I said. "YouVe just finished 
doing the house over." 

"Yes, but it's pretty well done over," Helen said, "and now there's 
got to be some reason for it." 

I did not object in principle. Helen was good at anything and she 
was a good mother. There was no reason why she should not have 
more children if she wanted them, but children were inescapable 
facts, as I knew from my experience with Camilla, and I could not 
see why Helen would want inescapable facts when they were con- 
nected with me. Her beauty still made everything seem imperma- 
nent. The illusion I had experienced the night before — that we were 
simply going through a passing infatuation — was with me again. 
I wished that I could fit into this environment as she did, but I was 
still unable to think of anything to do at Savin Hill. I had never had 
time to learn to play golf. The Winlocks had kept horses, and there 
were bridle paths everywhere, but neither Helen nor I could ride. 
It almost seemed as though there were nothing to do except to have 
a baby. 

It was a long day at Savin Hill. I read the papers for an hour, and 
Helen read them, too. Then I went downstairs to the office and 
worked with Art Hertz on the script, and after lunch I met Helen 
in the loggia for a walk around the place. 

"I wish you wouldn't wear that double-breasted suit when you go 
for a walk," Helen said. "Why don't you go upstairs and put on a 
pullover and some gray slacks and crepe-soled shoes?" 


"I can't," I said, "the Generals coming." 

The General's impending visit had been on my mind all day, and 
I began talking to Helen about him again, as we walked through 
the garden by the empty swimming pool. I told her it was always 
queer meeting someone at home whom you had only known when 
you were in uniform, but at any rate the General would probably be 
in uniform. Farouche, I remember, was walking with us through the 
garden, carrying his rubber ring, and I had told Helen that Farouche 
was as good as in a double-breasted suit himself. Then Helen began 
to talk to Mr. Browning, the gardener, who was spreading salt hay 
over the flower beds. I could never talk sensibly to Mr. Browning 
and I very seldom tried, because I had never been able to tell one 
flower from another, but somehow Helen had learned all the names 
in Latin as well as English. Farouche and I stood there like strangers 
from the city, which was exactly what we were, while Helen and 
Mr. Browning began to discuss moving plants in an herbaceous bor- 
der. The feeling of impermanence was beginning to rise again and 
with it my incredulity that I should ever have ended up at a place 
like this, and then I saw Camilla and Miss Otts. It was later than I 
had thought. Miss Otts had apparently given up her day off to take 
Camilla to that children's party. 

Somehow Camilla's pleated party dress and her coat with its squir- 
rel collar pulled everything together and proved that Helen had been 
right — Savin Hill was a nice place for Camilla. 

"Daddy," Camilla said, "you look funny standing there." 

"We'd better be starting now," Miss Otts said. 

Helen put her arm through mine, and we all walked back to the 
house and to the drive in front, where the new station wagon was 
waiting. Just as we reached it, I saw the Cadillac and another car 
behind it coming up the avenue with the deceptively simple white 
fences. General Goodwin and all the satellites were arriving. We 
stood there waiting and all at once Savin Hill became quite a place. 
Helen was my wife and Camilla was my child, and I began to wish 
that everything were on an even larger scale. I had the rank for the 
moment. I felt gracious and benign. I would not have wanted any- 
thing to be changed. 


"Just a little home in the country," I said to Helen, "just a little 

When I saw Mel Goodwin's expression as he observed the house 
and Helen and estimated the situation, I was increasingly delighted 
that everything was just the way it was. 

"It's been a long drive for you, I'm afraid," I said to Mrs. Goodwin. 

The photograph of Mrs. Goodwin had been put away that night at 
the Ritz, before I could see it, but she looked very much as I had 
often imagined her — a general's wife in a newsreel, with a conven- 
tional expression of pride, and a sense of its being her day at last. 
She had the durable, well-traveled appearance that a general's wife 
should have, combined with the assurance that came of knowing her 
rank exactly. She looked as though she had spent a lifetime packing 
and unpacking and arranging things on short notice. She wore gray 
gloves and a sensible black tailored coat on which a large corsage of 
orchids seemed elaborately out of place. She was about the General's 
age, a more difficult time of life for a woman than for a man. Her 
hair, freshly waved, was frankly gray, with a beauty parlor's light 
bluish tinge that matched her eyes very nicely. You could see that 
Mrs. Goodwin had been pretty once in a rather petite manner, and 
her expression was agreeable and, I imagined, more interesting than 
it had been earlier. She had gained in weight and character, and she 
had seen the world. Eventually the services left their mark on their 
women as they did on their men. 

When I shook hands with her, I had the uncomfortable impression 
that she was mentally taking off my double-breasted coat and putting 
me back into uniform and that I was not receiving a high mark in 
the test. 

"Mel's told me all about you, Major Skelton," she said. She might 
have still been at the airport, greeting me as a part of a committee, 
and I admired the brisk way she managed me. 

"How do you do, my dear?" Mrs. Goodwin said to Helen. "And 
what a sweet little girl, all dressed up for the occasion just like me. 
I hope you haven't felt that you had to make an effort about the 
General and me, my dear. Please don't. We're used to taking things 
as they come." Her duty was to put anxious people at their ease, and 


she was doing it well and quickly, and next she turned her attention 
to Farouche. 

"What is that dog holding in his mouth?" she asked. 

"It's a rubber ring. He wants to play," I said. 

"The General will play with him. I won't," she said. "Mel, here's 
another dog for you to play with." 

It was obviously the sort of small talk that she had learned to use 
gracefully before she climbed to the stand with the General to watch 
army post reviews. Another entourage had gathered behind her — 
the General, and a stout, genial-looking officer who was undoubtedly 
Colonel Flax of Public Relations, and behind them at a respectful 
distance, Gilbert Frary, Phil Bentley and the research girl and a 

"Well, well," General Goodwin said, "so he wants to play, does 
he ? And what's your name, sister ? I remember Daddy told me that 
he had a little girl." 

"Mel adores children," Mrs. Goodwin said. "You must excuse him 
for speaking to her first, my dear. Mel forgets everything when he 
sees a child." 

"Just a moment," Gilbert Frary said. "Burt, come over here. How 
about a picture of the General kissing Camilla?" 

I was the only one who was disturbed by the suggestion. All the 
brass in the ETO had learned to expect photographs. 

"No," I said, "let's go inside." 

"Yes," Helen said, "let's go in, and perhaps you and the General 
would like to go up to your room before we have tea, Mrs. Good- 
win." The ladies moved into the hall, but everyone else held back. 

"Go ahead, all the rest of you," the General said. "I'm going to stay 
out here a minute and talk to Sid. So this is Camilla, is it?" 

"And this is Miss Otts," I said. "They're going to a party. Williams 
can drive you now that he's here, Miss Otts." 

The General stood beside me, examining the house and the beech 

"This is quite an installation you have here," he said. "Are those 
the stables?" 

"Yes, sir," I told him, "but we haven't any horses yet. I'm afraid 


Helen's going to do something about them in the spring. You must 
be tired. Wouldn't you like to come in and have a drink ? " 

Although he had been doing a lot of plane travel, he hardly 
showed it. 

"It's nice to see you, son," he said. "God damn, all of a sudden 
having this thing blow up in my face. You should have seen what 
I've been through today, not to mention being given only about four 
hours to turn things over in Frankfurt. I don't even know whether 
I'm to go back. I don't know what the hell anything's about. I sup- 
pose maybe I would like a drink." He took me by the arm, and we 
walked into the hall. "This all confuses the hell out of me," he went 
on. "Nobody said anything when I was cracking the line at Saint-Lo. 
This is a hell of a thing for my record. Just because I was walking 
down a street in Berlin . . ." He paused and laughed shortly. 
". . . And now I'm under orders to do what these reporters want. 
I don't know how to answer these questions. Maybe we'd better have 
a drink. Oh, there you are, Flax." 

"Let me take your hat and coat, sir," Colonel Flax said. 

The General would not have to think himself of such things as his 
overcoat and his garrison cap now that someone in uniform was 
around. He was secure in his knowledge that they were now the 
colonel's responsibility, and I seemed to be following him into a new 
headquarters with his chief of staff. The General raised his arm 
quickly to look at his wrist watch. So did the colonel and so did I, 
instinctively, to be sure that we checked with the General's time. 

"Sixteen hours thirty-five," the General said. "What's the program 
now, Flax?" 

The General had not asked me what the program was, because he 
had been running around with the colonel all day, but he picked 
himself up immediately and patted my shoulder. "Excuse me, Sid," 
he said.. "It's just the old man trying to take over. Next time, slap 
my ears back, will you?" 

In spite of his hours of travel and all the wear and tear of his day 
in Washington, he did not look his age. His short crew cut concealed 
the gray of his hair. His body was still tough and resilient, and he 
had a quick, hard smile. 


"Anything Colonel Flax suggests will be fine," I said. "Put the 
General's hat and coat on a chair, Colonel. Oscar will hang them 

I saw Oscar out of the corner of my eye, moving toward us with 
three highballs on the Paul Revere tray. 

"Thanks, son," the General said to Oscar. "This certainly looks 
good." The General glanced at the curving staircase and at the hall's 
tropical wallpaper and smiled again. "It's nice to see one of my old 
boys doing so well outside," he went on. "I didn't tell you, did I, 
Colonel, that Skelton was with me at Saint-L6?" 

"Why, no, sir, I didn't know that Mr. Skelton was with you," the 
colonel said. 

There was no mention of the shortness of the time I had been 
with him in Normandy. Perhaps he had forgotten this, and I, my- 
self, was beginning to believe that I had been with him quite a while. 
I was almost positive of it when he patted my shoulder again. 

"I don't need to tell you, do I, Sid," he said, "what it means to me, 
your taking Muriel and me into your home here ? It gives a kick to 
everything. It's like old times, being back with one of my old boys." 

Colonel Flax cleared his throat in a tentative way, as though he 
hesitated to break up a reunion of comrades in arms. 

"Perhaps if the General would like a few minutes to himself," he 
said, "Mr. Skelton and I might run over the arrangements for this 
interview. I'm afraid we've had the General jumping through a good 
many hoops today." 

"Now that you mention it, it occurs to me that I have been travel- 
ing," the General said. "I might go upstairs and take a shower and 
put on a clean shirt while you boys collect my wits for me, provided 
you can find them. When does that man in the horn-rimmed glasses 
want to start asking me questions?" 

"There isn't any hurry, sir," I said. "I don't see how any of us can 
do much until after dinner. Don't worry. You'll get along all right 
with Phil Bentley." 

"I'm not worried," the General said. "If I put my foot in my 
mouth, you boys are the ones who will have to pull it out." 



When Colonel Flax and I were alone in the library, we were like 
doctors in consultation, fresh from the bedside of our patient. 

"Now my idea of presenting him," the colonel said briskly, "has 
been roughly this — and I hope you will agree with me: to show 
General Goodwin as a salty character with a lot of guts. I let him 
have his head all day, and I think he's come across. He's got the hu- 
man touch, and these general officers all have tc have something of 
the actor in them, don't you think ? I've never seen one yet who was 
bad in front of cameras. He makes a good impression, but I wish we 
could locate something individual in him with a memory value that 
we could play up. I wish he had more of the Patton quality — pearl- 
handled pistols, something that would raise him above the norm — 
but I wasn't able to find anything. Of course he's got guts, but then 
they all have." 

"Yes, they all have," I said. "I know what you mean about indi- 
viduality, but I don't believe that people expect too much. The main 
point about General Goodwin is that he answers everyone's precon- 
ceived idea of what he ought to be." 

Colonel Flax nodded. 

"That registers in the newsreels," he said, "and that thing you said 
last night about his being a GI's general isn't bad at all. I was able to 
find one or two enlisted men who had served with him, and we had 
them talking together. He was good with them, too. He ribbed one 
of the boys about cleaning up in a crap game at Algiers. I don't know 
how he remembered." 

"General Goodwin has a fine memory," I said. "He understands 

Colonel Flax looked at me questioningly and nodded. 

"Do you know him well?" 

"Not very," I answered. "Does anybody know a major general 

"That's the problem, isn't it?" the colonel said. "You can't translate 
them into ordinary terms. Did you ever meet Mrs. Goodwin before ?" 

"Not until right now," I said. 

The colonel looked at me again and nodded. 

"She fitted right into the picture," he said. "The General was hard 


to handle at first. He was against all the fuss that was being made, 
and he wanted to make it clear that the whole incident in Berlin was 
blown up out of all proportion, but Mrs. Goodwin enjoyed the show. 
Wives always do, don't they? They like to christen battleships and 
put wreaths around race horses." 

I laughed, and the colonel laughed. 

"He was all right after he got to the Pentagon. We had him meet 
the press there, and he gave a good account of the Berlin street scene 
— straightforward, from the shoulder. He even got a few laughs, in- 
tentional ones, I mean. He said, 'You boys have made me what I am 
today, and I hope you're satisfied,' and it wasn't a bad line. He did all 
right, but I'm worried about this definitive cover story." 

"Why are you worried?" I asked. 

Colonel Flax leaned back in his chair and looked at me again very 

"Well, frankly," he said, "he's so damned simple — not that sim- 
plicity isn't all right in its place." 

At last we were getting down to cases, and it proved that great 
minds thought alike. As I nodded without replying, I remembered 
I had said almost the same thing to Dottie Peale back in Paris. 

"Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean this in a derogatory 
sense," the colonel said. "I've never seen General Goodwin until this 
morning, although I have read his record, but you get to know some- 
one pretty fast under these circumstances. Now in these cover stories, 
the news magazines always start digging and they want to get an 
angle, and the public's pretty tired of generals now. I don't want 
them to make a monkey out of Goodwin. Now I know Bentley, and 
he worries me. He's got to turn out a line of goods. It's the way he 
earns his living." 

"Phil Bentley 's pretty serious-minded," I said. 

"He's not so serious that he didn't write for the New Yor\er" the 
colonel answered. "I wish there were some way of protecting Good- 
win. Do you think it would do any good to give Bentley a briefing 
on the General's background ? I've got his service record here, but it 
hasn't much appeal." 

Public Relations officers, even when they were as good as Colonel 


Flax, constantly toyed with the idea that you could influence writers. 
They seldom seemed to realize that this was the worst possible tactic. 
When you were dealing with someone in Phil Bentley's class, it was 
never even wise to hover around too much or to be overhelpful. The 
only thing to do was to give him everything there was, on and off the 
record, because in any event, he would get it by himself. No doubt an 
investigative crew was out already, asking the General's friends and 
enemies what they thought of him. 

"I know," Colonel Flax said. "You're perfectly right, of course. 
These boys are always looking for odd bits, mild pieces of dirt that 
look bad out of context." Colonel Flax lowered his voice. "Did you 
ever hear about General Goodwin going overboard over an Ameri- 
can girl in Paris, a writer or a publisher or someone?" 

The story would attach itself like a burr to someone of Mel Good- 
win's reputation, and Colonel Flax was only repeating it. You could 
never get rid of such a thing once it got started. 

"Yes," I said, "I know all about it. As a matter of fact, I was there 
at the time." 

I was glad that the colonel did not ask me what I knew, and I had 
no intention of asking him what he knew. We sat silently for a mo- 
ment, and then the colonel moved uneasily in his chair. 

"I don't like monkeying with anyone's private life," he said, "but 
I've got General Goodwin on my hands. This sort of thing, if it's 
used in a certain way . . " 

He left the sentence unfinished, but both of us knew how mali- 
ciously the material could be used, seemingly without libelous intent. 

"Phil's all right," I said. "I'll tell him the whole story off the rec- 
ord. Phil and I know each other pretty well." 

"That takes quite a weight off my mind," Colonel Flax told me. 
"I'd be much obliged if you don't mind carrying the ball on that 

That evening had its peculiar aspects. For one thing we were none 
of us entirely at home in our surroundings, not even Helen, which 
afforded me some amusement since she had created them. I do not 
mean by this that the persons seated around our beautiful double- 


pedestal dining table, on the austerely graceful Chippendale chairs 
that matched it, did not know which fork to use. I do not even mean 
to imply that anyone present was rendered uneasy by the atmosphere. 
None of us had been reared in this environment — that was all. 
Helen knew all about silver and glass and linen and place plates, and 
she loved those things, but she had not entertained with them herself 
until very recently. In the old days — and they were not so old after 
all — Helen and I had allowed our friends to eat off their laps or off 
anything that came handy in our old apartment in the West Fifties, 
but you couldn't eat that way in our new dining room. We had given 
only two parties that might have been called dinners at Savin Hill. 
One was a dinner of eight for some people by the name of Bishop, 
who owned some sort of factory in Waterbury, Connecticut, and 
who had been kind to us. The other had been for the Gormans, who 
lived about a mile away and who had a daughter Camilla's age. 
Neither of these occasions had taught us all it should have. As we 
were preparing for the evening, Helen did not seem exactly nervous, 
but she did have an air of facing something, as I could tell from the 
way she was going over her dresses. 

"What's the matter? Do you feel shy?" I asked her. 

"Of course I'm not shy, but I do like everything to be right, and 
nothing's quite broken in yet," she answered. 

"Well, everybody else here will be in the same boat," I told her. 
"Nobody's broken in." 

"I know," Helen said, "but I don't want them to know that we're 
in the same boat with them, and that Mr. Bentley is so observant. He 
was walking around downstairs just a little while ago, looking at 
everything and whistling pointedly." 

"You can't blame him," I told her. "I whistle sometimes myself." 

"But, Sid," she said, "you know it's fun entertaining in our own 
house. Sid, I think you'd better put on a dinner coat." 

"Why?" I asked. "No one else will." 

"Because Mrs. Goodwin will expect it," she said, "with the General 
and everything. Have you a piece of paper and a pencil in your 
pocket? I'd better draw a seating diagram. I'd like to put Gilbert 
Frary next to Mrs. Goodwin. He can talk to her about Hollywood." 


If I had to wear a dinner coat I wished that mine might have had a 
well-worn appearance, giving the impression that I customarily 
dressed for dinner, instead of looking new and glossy. But Helen 
was right, I think. Mrs. Goodwin expected to see me in a black 
tie. Her manner was approving when we all met downstairs in the 
living room. I only hoped that Phil Bentley would manage not to 

"I didn't know you'd be dressing, Sid," he said, "or I'd have done 
something about it." 

It was hard to think of an easy answer, because Phil knew all 
about me. 

"It's a simple reflex," I said, "my old respect for rank." 

Phil took off his glasses, pulled a little packet of polishing papers 
from his waistcoat pocket, rubbed the lenses carefully and blinked at 
General Goodwin, who was standing in front of the living room fire- 
place talking to Helen. 

"Now I see why Sid behaved himself in Paris," I heard the Gen- 
eral saying. "Did Sid ever tell you about Saint-L6, Mrs. Skelton?" 

Phil Bentley looked like a connoisseur peering across a gallery at 
a canvas. 

"How much did you see of him at Saint-L6?" he asked. 

"Oh, not very much," I answered. 

"Why do you respect him," he asked, "enough to put on a black 
tie? I never think of you as respecting anybody." 

It was one of those disagreeable questions which people like Phil 
learned how to ask when they began writing profiles. 

"Maybe you and I ought to respect a few more abstractions," I 
said, "such as courage and honor and duty." 

"Do you think he respects those things?" Phil asked. 

"He has to," I said, "and maybe you and I ought to." 

"That's right," Phil said. "Maybe we ought to. Maybe I will later 
in the evening. He doesn't look too bad, does he ? But then, none of 
them do. You'll get us alone right after dinner, won't you ? I haven't 
got much time to horse around." 

"Right after dinner," I said. 

"Is there anything special you want to say about him?" 


"Not right now," I said. "He's all yours. I don't want to influence 
you, Phil." 

There was a slight atmosphere of tenseness as we talked and a 
trace of professional jealousy between us, but Phil Bentley was to do 
the work, not me. 

"That Public Relations colonel looks pretty nervous, doesn't he?" 
Phil asked. "Why should he be so jittery ?" 

"Wouldn't you?" I asked. "He wants you to do a good piece about 

"I'll do a good piece about him. We have quite a lot of material on 
him already, haven't we, Myra?" 

"Yes," Miss Fineholt said brightly. "The fun of this work is seeing 
what material comes in. You saw something of General Goodwin in 
Paris, didn't you, Mr. Skelton?" 

"Yes, when I was in Paris I heard him give a lecture on the Battle 
of the Bulge," I said. "I wouldn't press the Paris angle if I were you, 

"I want to talk to you about it sometime while we're here, 
just to fill in background," Phil Bentley said, "if you don't mind, 

"No, I don't mind. Any time at all," I said. 

Miss Fineholt smiled, the weary, studious smile of a raker in dust 

"I wonder whether Mrs. Goodwin knows anything about the Gen- 
eral in Paris?" she asked. "Nobody seems to know if she does." 

"Maybe she does," I said. "She seems to be quite an authority on 
the General." 

"This is a very lovely room," Miss Fineholt said. "Are all these 
antiques original?" 

"They're all certified," I said. "They give you a pretty good idea 
of my income, don't they?" 

"Oh, I didn't mean to be rude," Miss Fineholt said, "and of course 
we know your income anyway. You know the bad habits we get, 
snooping, in this business, and besides, Phil and I might have to do a 
piece on you sometime." 

"I can't wait," I told her. 


I was back in an old world that I understood. I knew all about the 
proclivities and loyalties of research girls, but I hoped that Miss Fine- 
holt would never be on a team doing a piece about me. 

Time was moving on. Just before my broadcast I could always feel 
an inevitable pressure. 

"Oh, Sid." It was Gilbert Frary speaking, and I saw that one of the 
company technicians was with him. "Excuse me please, Miss Fine- 
holt, for interrupting an interesting conversation. It is ten minutes to 
seven, Sid. Perhaps we had better go in and settle down/* 

"Oh, it's the broadcast. May I come, too?" Miss Fineholt asked. 

I told her that of course she could, that I would feel hurt if she 
didn't. It never did any harm to be kind to research girls. 

"Sidney is never embarrassed by anyone," Gilbert Frary said. "He 
is utterly uninhibited before the microphone. Without intending to 
promote anything, I hope that before long you and Mr. Bentley will 
be working on a warm and friendly little piece about Sidney." 

"Come on, Gilbert," I said, "let's get going." 

"I have suggested to General Goodman that he might sit at the 
desk beside you," Gilbert said, "for the photographs afterwards. He 
is enthusiastic about the idea, Sidney." 

The minutes were beginning to press closely around me when the 
General and I walked into the library. Often as I had gone through 
the motions, there still was a ceremony to sitting down at the micro- 
phone. Often as I might tell myself it was superficial and ridiculous, 
still a great deal depended on the smoothness and perfection of this 
act. Without having to make any mental checkup in case something 
was forgotten, I still found myself doing so, not out of nervousness 
but out of habit. The microphones and all the paraphernalia were in 
place. Art Hertz was standing near them ready to take the pages 
from my hand so they would not rustle. A technician stood near him 
with his watch, ready to give the signal, and the adjustments had al- 
ready been made for my voice. Approaching the microphone, I was 
like a prize fighter climbing through the ropes. The little show, I 
saw, impressed the General because he understood the value of for- 

"Imagine me walking into anything like this," he said. 


"It's the way I pay for supper," I told him, "but it's too bad they 
bother you with it." 

It was the way I paid for everything. I was lucky, if you wanted to 
call it luck. I might have been doing the same kind of work as Phil 
Bentley, but not as well — not possessing his facility or insight. As 
I saw him watching the tableau before the microphone, I was posi- 
tive that much the same thought was crossing his own mind, and 
then I observed the General sitting beside me. He and I were in 
somewhat similar positions, in that we had each reached a climax in 
our careers. The only difference between us was that the General's 
career had reached a logical climax. 

"We will be on the air in just one minute," Gilbert Frary said. 
"Will everyone please settle down?" 

There was a ridiculous, churchlike stillness in the library. The eyes 
of everyone were on me and General Goodwin. The show was on 
the air, and the voice of Stanley Rose came through from the studio 
speaking for the sponsor. 

"In just a moment Mr. Sidney Skelton will be with you with his 
personal interpretation of the day's news, but before hearing Mr. 
Skelton I should like to ask you a single question: Do not your 
thoughts often turn to a fine full-bodied soup in this crisp autumn 
weather? . . ." 

Soup or shaving cream or hair tonic — it would have made no dif- 
ference. We were riding the waves of free enterprise again. 

". . . and so tomorrow morning, drop in at your nearest dealer's 
and look for that simple, friendly name on the can. You can't miss it. 
And now . . . Mr. Sidney Skelton." 

It was Gilbert Frary who insisted on the "Mr." — just one more 
little grace note to give the program quality and integrity. 

"Good evening, friends," I said. 

The machine was moving in high gear. I could hear my own voice 
dealing with the revelations of a congressional investigation, and I 
had to admit it sounded well. Without my understanding where my 
incisive enthusiasm had come from, it was there, and the sentences 
did reflect my personality. If I stammered or stopped, Savin Hill 
would go up in smoke, but I knew I would not stop. I had a meas- 


ured assurance which never exhibited itself in everyday living. I was 
completely at home in this ridiculous show. 

"And what about the situation in Berlin tonight ?" I was saying. 
"Thanks to Major General Melville A. Goodwin, the big brass is say- 
ing tonight, the situation in that city is less tense, and General Mel- 
ville Goodwin reported on this situation personally in Washington 
this morning. It has been quite a day for Mel, a name his old army 
friends, and lots of the GIs, too, know him by. Mel got off the plane 
this morning to be greeted by a kind of barrage with which he's 
never had to cope, a barrage of cameras and of popular acclaim, but 
he plowed right through it. As a matter of fact, Mel Goodwin is 
right beside me here, as I am speaking to you from my home in Con- 
necticut, and — well, he's still the same old Mel I used to know when 
his division, the Silver Leaf Armored, was knifing its way through 
France and rolling across Germany. He wishes the newspaper boys, 
as he calls them, would let him alone, but they won't. They've even 
followed him right up here. They can't wait for this broadcast to 
finish before asking what makes him tick. Well, good luck, Mel. . . . 
And now, out in San Francisco this afternoon on the great Golden 
Gate Bridge . . ." 

I was finished with Mel Goodwin — his spot was over. It had been 
of value. Somehow an unseen presence by the microphone always 
helped to create dramatic effect. 

"And now," I was saying, "thanks for listening, and I'll try to tell 
you how things look to me tomorrow." 

The program was off the air and I stood up. 

"You see what I mean," I heard Gilbert Frary saying to Mrs. Good- 
win. "The intimate touch is what does it. It's just as though Sidney 
were chatting to us informally. And now, Sid, if Burt could take a 
few candid shots of you and General Goodman, just telling some 
little anecdote to each other by the microphone." 

"Fm sorry about this, sir," I said. 

"Cut out this 'sir' business," Melville Goodwin said. "Why didn't 
you tell me in Paris you could put on a show like that?" 

"Because I never knew I could, in Paris," I told him. 

"That's beautiful," I heard Gilbert Frary saying. "Don't mind 


the lights. Just keep talking to him naturally, General Good- 

If Mel Goodwin was annoyed by being called Goodman, he did 
not show it. 

"The truth is, nobody knows what he can do until he squares up 
to it," he said. "I have noticed that quite often. Let's get the girls 
over, too. They'd like to be in the picture. Come on over, Muriel." 

"Oh no, Mel," Mrs. Goodwin said, "you know how I look in 

I had forgotten there would be photographs until it was too late. 
I would have looked much better in country clothes. Phil Bentley 
was watching us, critically, but at any rate the show was almost over, 
and dinner had been announced. 

It was a strange little dinner, with all of us there for the ghoulish 
purpose of prying into the workings of General Melville Goodwin 
and all pretending that we were not. I can recall almost verbatim 
everything that Mrs. Goodwin said. She had changed into a long 
dress of sturdy lavender crepe, and she still wore the orchid corsage, 
because, as she said, she wanted to get all she could out of it. The last 
time she had worn orchids was six years before, when she happened 
to be visiting some service friends stationed in Philadelphia, and she 
had been asked, since the General was at Salerno and would get 
his second star soon, to christen a Liberty ship. There had been 
orchids then, but nothing like these orchids. 

"This dining room reminds me of a dining room in Georgetown," 
she said, "belonging to a service friend of ours, Colonel Ainsley. 
You may have met him as an attache somewhere abroad — of course 
he has a comfortable income beside his army pay. Such a nice dining 
room, and your wife looks so delightful in it, Mr. Skelton! I hope 
someday soon the General and I can have a permanent home where 
we can receive our friends. We keep picking up odds and ends for 
that home. I have some lovely lacquer that we bought once in 
Tientsin, but that must wait until the General retires. Until then 
home must always be where we're ordered." 

"I have moved around a good deal myself," I said. "I know pretty 
well what it's like." 


"But you're permanently fixed now," she said. "This all looks 
very permanent." 

There was always a gap between people in and out of the service, 
and Mrs. Goodwin was as aware as I that she was here in line of 

"Everyone's been so nice to Mel today," she went on. "I only wish 
he weren't disturbed by public attention. You wouldn't think he was 
shy to look at him, would you?" 

"Why, no," I said. 

"He doesn't like taking credit for anything that he doesn't think 
he deserves. He keeps saying that this is all a fuss about nothing, 
and perhaps it is, but it's about time Mel received some recognition. 
He's done a great deal that nobody outside the service knows about. 
I hope you'll help that newspaperman to find it out, but you'll have 
to lead Mel on." 

"Fm sure he'll find it out," I said. 

She looked down the table at the General. She was a good army 
wife, so good that it was hard to tell what she was like herself. 

"I think the General looks well, don't you?" she said. "You 
wouldn't know that he'd flown the Atlantic and been in Washing- 
ton all morning, would you? I always tell Mel he's very durable. 
When he got up to that delightful guest room of yours this after- 
noon, he just sat down in a chair and closed his eyes and was asleep 
before I could finish talking to him, and when I woke him up he 
picked up the conversation again, just where we had left it, wanting 
to know the latest about Robert and about our son Charles — 
Charles is still at the Point, you know — - and all our closer friends. 
It's amusing in the service how you make friends and lose them 
and find them again . . . that is, if they're not killed. We lost so 
many good friends in the war. ... I wish I could sleep at any time 
like Mel." 

I wished that I could myself, I told her. I did not need to put my 
mind on what she was saying. 

"Mel is so durable," she said, "that he still looks very much like 
the pictures taken when he graduated from the Point. I should 
know. You see, Mel and I were married the day after he graduated." 

J 33 

"Were you really?" I said, "the day afterward?" 

"We were in high school together," she said. "He doesn't look so 
very different, a little heavier perhaps. Of course, I always knew 
he'd be a general someday." 

"Why were you so sure?" I asked. 

It was a careless question, but she answered it literally. 

"Because I always wanted it. If you want something enough, you 
get it. Don't you think that's true?" 

"Maybe it's true," I said. 

"I always wanted to marry Mel, and I married him. I wanted two 
boys, and the children were boys. If you think of something long 
enough and hard enough, it comes true. At least I've found it that 

"You have to do a good deal about it besides thinking," I said. 

"Doing is part of the wanting, I think," Mrs. Goodwin said, "or 
perhaps not doing too much is part of it. The General never likes 
it when I try to do too much." 

"And what do you want now?" I asked. 

It was impertinent to ask her but I could think of years of want- 
ing in Hawaii and Manila and Tientsin. 

"I want him back," she said, "but now that I've got him back for 
a few days and now that Robert's back from the Pacific, I don't 
know that I want anything except to have Robert and Charles here 
tonight. . . . Oh yes, and I want them to find something worth 
while for the General to do — something beside returning him to his 
command in Germany, though it's hard to leave a field command, 
when a war is over. I don't mean that we like war, but after all, that's 
what the service is made for." 

She stopped and looked down the table again at the General. 

"I don't suppose I should have said that," she said, "but I won't 
take it back." 

Her expression as she watched her husband — a complete under- 
standing that was both devoted and detached — made me see why 
they had married the day after Melville Goodwin had become a 
commissioned officer. In fact, if I had been Melville Goodwin, with 
all my career ahead of me and in a period of youth when anything 

T 34 

must have been possible — I might very well have wanted to marry 
her myself. At any rate, I was able to move back through time for 
a second or two and to imagine what their early years must have 
been like in spite of her lavender crepe and her orchids. 

"Why shouldn't you say that about war?" I asked her. "It seems 
to me like a very sensible remark." 

Her glance moved away from the end of the table, as though 
she had just seen me. 

"Because you're not in the Regular Army," she said. "Of course you 
have been in the service, but temporary service isn't the same 
thing. It only sounds ugly to you to think of people living and 
waiting for a war, but I don't mean it in that way" — she spoke as 
though she wanted to hurry quickly to some firmer ground — "I 
only mean that a service wife has to be prepared for her man to go 
when a war starts, in a different way from an outside wife. Now 
directly after Mel and I were married, he sailed to France with a 
school detachment in the First World War. I learned my lesson 
then. I learned that I must want him to see front-line service with 
troops because I had to want it. . . . He went in at Chateau-Thierry, 
which is more than most of his classmates did. He was lucky and 
what he did I am sure has always helped on his record. All we live 
for is a service record, even if it's always concealed in a file, and 
a wife has to be a part of it." 

She stopped and I was no longer aware of the voices of the others 
at the table. I was thinking of young Melville Goodwin and the 
guns of Chateau-Thierry and of the first time he saw Paris — just 
passing through. 

"We all have to live by some sort of record," I said. 

"Yes, but not in black and white, the way we do," she answered. 
"Mel has what I like to think of as a straightforward record. I don't 
want anything to spoil it." She stopped again. "You like Mel, don't 
you? ... I can always tell when anyone likes Mel," she went on 
before I could answer. "Now this incident in Berlin will go on his 
record. I suppose there will be some sort of decoration, but he won't 
want it because he will say it isn't a sincere decoration. He doesn't 
believe in collecting medals." She leaned toward me and lowered 


her voice. "I don't like to ask this, since I hardly know you, but I 
hope you'll help him with these newspaper people. He has to see 
them, and it's in line of duty, but Mel isn't the kind of officer who 
likes his name in print. Please don't let them twist things he says. 
Please don't let them hurt his record." 

I wanted to tell her not to worry, but instead, I began to worry 
myself, for fear she might be implying more than she had said. 
Dinner was almost over, and there was an abrupt silence at the far 
end of the table. Then I heard Colonel Flax speaking in a way that 
instantly caught my attention. 

"Of course by that," I heard the colonel saying, "the General 
doesn't mean he's sorry the war is over." 

Then I knew that the General had been meeting the press all by 
himself at the far end of the table while Mrs. Goodwin and I had 
been talking. Phil Bentley and the others were staring at him in a 
bewildered manner, and the General's face was set in conventional 

"I'm not speaking in the broad, humanitarian sense," the General 
said. "William T. Sherman was right. War is hell, and war is a hell 
of a profession, but looking at it from a professional point of view, 
it's pretty tough on professionals when a war stops and we're not 
wanted any more. Now old Clausewitz would understand me and 
so would Julius Caesar. War's an art. We professionals start getting 
good and just when everything gets cracking right the war's over. 
Look at the old Silver Leaf. That was a sweet division, a co- 
ordinated, battle-wise division, and where is it now? Can you blame 
me if losing something like that hurts me artistically? You can 
call it fascist if you like. I haven't had much time to study 

Philip Bentley 's glasses glittered in the candlelight, and I saw him 
glance meaningly toward Miss Fineholt. 

"I see what you mean," Phil Bentley said. "I never heard it put 
quite that way before." 

"Well, you asked for it," General Goodwin answered. "You said 
I almost seemed sorry that the war was over. I say I have mixed 
emotions on the subject, and so would you if you were in my shoes." 


"Perhaps I would," Phil Bentley said, and the candlelight was 
reflected again from his glasses. 

"You're damned well right you would," the General said. 

Helen pushed back her chair and stood up and I looked at Phil 
Bentley as anxiously as if I were Colonel Flax. 

"To use an old military expression," I heard myself saying in my 
sincerest voice, "perhaps we'd better put the show on the road. I'm 
sure the General would like to get started. We can go into the 
library any time now if you want to, Phil." 

I was relieved that Phil Bentley and the General both laughed. 

"Yes, let's put the show on the road," Phil Bentley said. "Go 
ahead and get your notebook, Myra." 

We waited for the ladies to go first, and as the General followed 
them, Phil Bentley shook his head. 

"Don't be so God-damned jumpy, boys," he said to Colonel Flax 
and me. "He's starting out all right." 

"We're not jumpy," Colonel Flax said. "You see what he is — 

I wished that the colonel would not explain. It never did any 
good to interfere with anyone like Phil Bentley. 

I told Phil Bentley to take the whole thing over himself, once we 
were in the library, and he did it very well. He asked the General 
to sit down near the fire and he asked us all to relax and be com^ 
fortable, and everyone did look comfortable except Miss Fineholt, 
who sat at the desk with her notebooks. 

"Now that we're all here," the General said, "I've said I'd be co- 
operative, but I don't like this sort of thing." 

I had to admit that Phil Bentley was adroit and reassuring. 

"That's the way everyone feels when we start," he said. "It does 
look rather like being interrogated, doesn't it? But you won't mind 
it after we get going, General. Just think of us all being here talk- 
ing, and anytime you say anything you don't want on the record, 
let me know." 

"All right," the General said, "let's get going." 

"All right," Phil Bentley said, "it doesn't much matter where we 
start. Let's begin with your walking along that street in Berlin." 


"I wish to God Fd never walked along that street," the General 
said. "It was just another street in a bombed-out town." 

He glanced about the library without much curiosity, but at the 
same time with approval. The books were in good order, their 
leather backs well oiled. Helen had been augmenting the library 
by frequent visits to auction rooms and in the last analysis it was 
her idea of what a man's library should be, based on the best con- 
servative tradition and approved by a dealer in definitive editions. 
If Miss Fineholt had been interested in the appraisal, she would 
have found that the books and furnishings amounted to more than 
the General's yearly pay. The mahogany book ladders on squeaking 
casters, the terrestrial and celestial globes, the so-called cockfighting 
chairs, were all Helen's idea, not mine, and so were the other chairs, 
which, I am glad to say, proved that some thought had been given 
to physical comfort in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth cen- 
turies. My sole contributions to the room consisted of two refusals. 
I had asked Helen to remove a rug made out of the hide of some 
African animal from in front of the fireplace, and I had not allowed 
her to put above the mantel an ornate map of the world showing 
my travels. 

Miss Fineholt, Phil Bentley, Colonel Flax and I sat there listening 
to the General, all of us as unaccustomed to the library as the library 
was to us. We were not scions of old county families. As far as the 
General was concerned, circumstances had made him oblivious long 
ago to material surroundings, but still he did give the room a mo- 
ment's thought. 

"One of the things I like least about bombings," the General 
said, "is the way home furnishings get scattered. I don't like seeing 
chewed-up pages of books in the rubble, but then, Berlin is pretty 
well picked up, and paper sells for something." 

"Why did you happen to be walking down the street?" Phil Bent- 
ley asked. 

"Because this AP correspondent said he'd take me to see the 
sights," the General said, and he went on from there easily if not 
brilliantly. He was completely at home giving an account of any 
concrete action, and I imagine Phil Bentley had understood this. As 

i 3 x 

the novelty wore of?, General Goodwin's words became less stilted 
and less considered. By degrees his personality began to dominate the 
room, so that in a little while it made no difference that all of us 
were entirely familiar with the Berlin incident. Melville Goodwin's 
reaction to it was all that was important. He was a book, if the pages 
could be turned properly and if we could interpret his self-revelations. 

"You see it was all nothing to make a fuss about," he was saying. 
"It doesn't make any difference what language they talk, troops are 

I watched Miss Fineholt's hand moving smoothly across the pages 
of her notebook. The General was becoming more interested in his 
own words, more absorbed in himself and less conscious of effect. 
You had to pay attention to him. In the end he was like the Ancient 
Mariner. You could not choose but hear. 

"Now that we've broken the ice," Phil Bentley said, "how about 
telling us where you were born and about your family. Just tell us 
anything you want, as though you were trying to remember it all 
for yourself." 

"All right," the General said, "I don't mind, if you don't. I was 
born and raised in Hallowell, New Hampshire, about ten miles 
away from the town of Nashua, New Hampshire, in the Merrimack 
River Valley. The town of Hallowell is at the falls of a small stream 
called Blind River, which flows into the Merrimack. The Hallowell 
hat factory is there, still using water power. Maybe you have heard 
of Hallowell hats." 

He waited expectantly, but no one had heard of 'them. 

"It's a town of about three thousand population, a small mill 
town. There have always been Goodwins in Hallowell, I guess, 
but I haven't been around there much since I left for the Point. 
I sometimes think when I retire I might go back, but you have to 
keep living in a place like Hallowell in order to stay with it. It's 
a specialty in itself, living in a place like Hallowell." 

Our paths must have come very near to crossing at some point 
in Nashua. I remembered the town of Hallowell very well, one of 
those half -forgotten towns off the main highway with, a single small 
industry to give it an excuse for existing. 



It Must Have Been Those Decoration Day Parades 

There were always Goodwins in Hallowell, General Goodwin 
was saying, above ground and in the cemetery. There had been 
Goodwins in Hallowell in the French and Indians wars, and the 
Indians had burned down a Goodwin farm on one of their raids 
down the Merrimack. You still can find their arrowheads and the 
wigwam sites along Blind River where they camped when the 
salmon and alewives were running. There was no history of Hallo- 
well that he knew anything about except for word-of-mouth history 
and the records on the stones in the cemetery. His great-great- 
grandfather, Amos Goodwin, had been in the Revolutionary War, 
and there was always a flag by his slate headstone on Decoration 
Day. His grandfather on his mother's side had been in the Civil 
War, but he was buried in Nashua. That was about all there was 
to say about his family, except that his own father, Robert Goodwin, 
had owned the drugstore, and when Melville Goodwin attended the 
Hallowell grammar school, there must have been ten other Good- 
wins there, including his two elder brothers and his sister Celia. 
His elder brother George ran the drugstore now, and his brother 
Harry was settled in Michigan. Celia was married and in California, 
which went to show that Hallowell had been pretty much a place 
to move away from. 

Without wishing in any way to criticize West Point, which was 
the greatest school of its kind in the world, nevertheless a kind of 
iron curtain did fall, when you entered there. Many a time in his 
plebe year at the Point he had longed to return to Hallowell in a 
violent, homesick way. Many a time he had put himself to sleep 


recalling the fishing and the skating on Blind River, and even the 
chores that had been assigned him before and after school. He had 
been able, in those unhappy periods when discipline had been 
kicked into him, to close his eyes and walk down every street in 
Hallowell, in the same way an expert could play chess without 
looking at the board. Yet frankly, by now Hallowell and his days 
there had begun to lie in a region which people in the service 
sometimes referred to as "outside," a disagreeable term which he 
knew was also employed by Sing Sing convicts. 

You might as well face the fact that you saw civilian life through 
different lenses after you had been to the Point. You were con- 
stantly being disturbed by its lavishness and laxness, though he did 
not want to imply for a moment that army people did not have 
human weaknesses. Take the Hallowell high school, for instance. 
The school committee, of which his uncle had been a member, had 
never thought of giving Hallowell boys close-order drill and good 
setting-up exercises. These would have been more of a help to them 
in later life than Caesar's Gallic wars and Virgil, and there might 
also have been a course in map reading. Yet he could see, because 
he certainly was not a martinet, that innovations like these would 
never have been accepted in Hallowell. The disciplines of Hallowell 
were of a milder sort. 

"Robert," he could remember his mother saying, "don't call the 
boys in yet. Supper can wait for ten minutes. Remember, children 
are only children once." 

That was why he loved his mother and her memory. She had 
never exhibited maternal worries about her children. She always 
seemed completely certain that the future would look out for itself 
as long as one received a good education and went to church on 
Sunday. It was amazing how you were let alone to work things out 
for yourself in Hallowell. 

Hallowell was a long distance away, but Melville Goodwin could 
still give a ground plan of the place. An aptitude for analytical 
observation of contour, water courses and cover, degree of slope, 
and condition of roads and fences, was now part of his professional 
equipment, and full knowledge of terrain had often meant for him 


the difference between life and death, but his mind's picture of 
Hallo well could never be objective. He never, for instance, fought 
an imaginary war in Hallowell. He never thought of the Rowell 
Memorial Library as a communications center or of the hat factory 
as a strong point or Carter's Woods as offering suitable concealment 
from the air. Nevertheless, he still could do a sketch map of it if 
you would give him a pencil and paper. 

Most of the country was a sandy glacial moraine covered by a 
scrubby growth of pine and oak. No main motor highway ran 
through Hallowell even now. The railroad junction was two miles 
out of town, and only a freight spur ran to the hat factory. Once 
an hour in summer and once every two hours in winter a trolley 
would leave the square in front of the hat factory for Nashua. 
Shute's General Store and Richards's Meat Market and Gray's Dry 
Goods and Notions Store and Goodwin's Drugstore were all grouped 
around this open space. The houses along Prospect Street, where he 
had lived and where Muriel Reece's family had lived, had mostly 
been built in the sixties, when the hat factory had enjoyed unusual 
prosperity because of the Civil War. They were comfortable houses 
with porches painted gray or white, and the largest of them, of an 
earlier period, was the one occupied by Mr. Oakes Hallowell, the 
owner of the hat factory. It stood behind a white picket fence just off 
the common, adjacent to the brownstone Romanesque building of 
the Rowell Memorial Library. The grammar school, a small yellow 
structure, stood at the end of Prospect Street just where it ran into 
the country. 

What he remembered best were the sounds and smells of Hallo- 
well, the whistle of the hat factory at seven and noon and closing 
time, the constant sound of water over the dam, a clamor that rose 
to a roar in spring, the steamy smell of felt and dye by the river, 
the smell of wood smoke from the kitchen chimneys when the fires 
were being started in the morning, and the sound of sleigh bells 
in the winter. When he came home later on leave and when cars 
were parked along the common and along Prospect Street, he was 
still listening for the rattle of wagon wheels or for the ringing of 
sleigh bells. The whole place was on the "outside" but somehow, 


even down to the granite Civil War soldier in front of the town 
hall, it was different from any other place on the outside. 

That soldier, with his cape and little visor hat, gave Melville his 
first impression of his country's wars, but there were other imme- 
diate wars in Hallowell. When he was a little boy, there was always 
the prospect of physical collision, beginning with the morning right 
after breakfast when his mother had packed his lunch box and 
kissed him and sent him off to school. His brothers were of no 
great help to him. George was eight years older and in high school 
already. Harry was three years older and did not want to be seen 
with a kid Mel's age, and Celia was so much older that she often, 
in speaking of him to other girls, referred to him as her cute little 
brother. Perhaps he was a cute boy when he came to think of it. 
His round face and his wide, innocent eyes and the length of his 
yellow hair may have had more influence on his development than 
he ever imagined. He never dreamed of telling anyone that he 
dreaded the twenty-minute recess period when his contemporaries 
would gather around him and call him "baby face." 

There must always be some scene when the curtain rises on any- 
one's career, and a September morning in about 1903, when the 
family were having breakfast, may be as good a medium as any 
other for introducing the life and times of Melville A. Goodwin. 
It was the period when the mail-order house of Montgomery Ward 
and Company offered a free trip down the Mississippi to the boys 
who could sell the most Montgomery Ward buggies in their commu- 
nities. George Goodwin had seen the advertisement two weeks be- 
fore, and he was endeavoring to start his Mississippi trip that morn- 
ing by inducing his father to buy a buggy, but Mr. Goodwin was in 
a hurry. 

"I've told you 'no,' George," Mr. Goodwin said, "and I don't 
want to have to tell you 'no' again. How do you know there's any 
trip down the Mississippi River? Advertisements are only made to 
make a boy like you discontented." 

"But you have advertisements in the store," George said. "What 
about Old Home Elixir?" 


"Young man," Mr. Goodwin . said, "you're too young to know 
about Old Home, even if this is a no-license town." 

"Oh, it's got booze in it, has it?" George asked. 

"It has an alcoholic content," Mr. Goodwin said, "but it's a 
medicine. Never mind about Old Home." 

"Celia, dear," Mrs. Goodwin said, "bring the coffeepot over to 
your father." 

"Well, if you won't buy a buggy," George said, "can I have fifty 

Mr. Goodwin put a little cream in his coffee and a spoonful of 
sugar before he answered. 

"Thank you for the coffee, Mother," he said. He always called her 
Mother at breakfast. "What do you want fifty cents for, George?" 

"I want to send for an Indian snake's-eye ring," George said. "It's 
a lucky charm." 

"What do you need luck for?" Mr. Goodwin asked. 

"Why, any fella needs luck," George said. 

Mr. Goodwin sighed. "You ought to stop reading advertisements, 
George. . . . I'll have two eggs and one piece of bacon this morning, 
Mother, but I'm in sort of a hurry. I've got to make up a prescrip- 
tion for Dr. Byles. . . . Now when I was a boy I used to read good 
books. George, did you ever read The Last of the Mohicans, by 
James Fenimore Cooper?" 

"Who is the prescription for, dear?" Mrs. Goodwin asked. 

"For Mrs. Perkins," Mr. Goodwin said. 

"Is it her stomach again?" 

"Yes," Mr. Goodwin said, "it's the digestive prescription — Dr. 
Byles's bismuth one." You could learn what was wrong with every- 
one if you listened to Father at home. 

The family were having breakfast in the kitchen, as they cus- 
tomarily did on school days. Celia and Harry had set the table, and 
in the chilly September morning the stove was warm and pleasant. 
Melville ate his oatmeal in steady silence. His mother had packed 
his lunch box already with a jam sandwich, a hard-boiled egg and 
an orange. Soon it would be time to go to school. 

"Mom," he said, "I don't feel very good this morning." 


"Why, Mel," his mother said, "where do you feel sick?" 

He tried to think of a good place to feel sick, but he actually felt 
very well all over. 

"Sort of everywhere," he said, but he never was good at acting. 

"Come here, Mel," his father said, "and stick out your tongue — 
'way out, and now say 'ah.' I thought so. It's the old school com- 
plaint. I used to have it myself." He smiled and rubbed his hands 
together. "And I know the cure for it. The cure is, go to school." 

Melville returned to his chair at the kitchen table and ate his 
soft-boiled egg. The cure was to go to school, and ten minutes later 
Harry and he and Celia started. The sun was bright on Prospect 
Street. It had been a dry summer, and the leaves were already 
falling from the elms. When you scuffled your feet in the dead 
leaves, they had a pungent, dusty smell. 

"Harry," he asked, "can I walk with you?" If he went with Harry 
past the Stickney house, he knew that he would reach school safely. 
The main danger always came from the Stickney house, a hundred 
yards down the street. 

"What's the matter?" Harry asked. "Do you need a nurse?" 

"No," Mel said. 

"Then don't keep tagging after me," Harry said. 

"Go ahead, Mel," Celia said when they reached the Jacques 
house. "Fm going to call for Emily. Please go on, Mel, and don't 
hang around listening to us." 

Mel Goodwin continued on his way, walking alone down Pros- 
pect Street, not alone technically, because there were grown-up 
people in the yards and there were dogs, but alone practically, from 
the point of view of childhood. He walked steadily and carefully 
toward the Stickney house, and each step brought him nearer. He 
could already see the gray mansard roof and the umbrella tree in 
the Stickney front yard and the iron fence and the drive leading to 
the gray barn. Every detail was assuming a painful distinctness as 
though he were looking through the focused lens of a spyglass. 
He never could be sure what might happen, perhaps nothing or 
perhaps nothing much, depending on whether Joe Stickney was 
waiting for him or not, and depending on Joe's whim. For one 


bright second he thought that Joe Stickney had started off ahead 
of him, but just as he began feeling that everything was all right, 
Joe ran down the front steps, and Mel knew that Joe had been 
waiting. Mel could shut his eyes and still see the active nine-year- 
old Joe Stickney, the merry, volatile Joe Stickney in his corduroy 
trousers and his red jersey. He could see Joe Stickney 's short black 
hair and his brown eyes and his expectant smile. Joe was carrying 
a light switch with which he had been whipping at the elm leaves 
on the lawn. 

"Hi, Baby Face," Joe said. 

"Hi, Joe," Mel answered, politely and placatingly, because he 
could never be sure of Joe Stickney's mood. 

"You're a buffalo," Joe Stickney said, "and I'm Buffalo Bill. Run 
for your life." 

The switch struck Mel Goodwin's calves, and he began to run 
obediently, trying to think it was a game and even pretending that 
he liked Joe and that they might be friends; and it could have been 
a game if Joe Stickney had stopped whipping him. He felt the 
humiliation of it, but then it was a part of life, being bullied by 
Joe Stickney, and curiously enough he felt no anger or resentment. 
It was not as bad as it might have been, being a buffalo, until they 
reached the school yard and the older boys. He remembered that 
he asked joe to stop, please to stop hitting him, but he asked with 
no particular hope. He remembered that the older boys began to 
crowd around him as they often did before the school bell rang. 

"Hi, fellas," Joe Stickney called. "He's a buffalo and I'm Buffalo 
Bill. Let's see you go for me, Buffalo." 

Mel Goodwin had seen plenty of that sort of thing later — at the 
Point, for instance, on a more elaborate scale. It was a part of life, 
being able to take it, if you could not dish it out, although he was 
not aware of this at the time. He only remembered that he faced 
a hopeless situation as he stood alone in the center of the circle, 
wondering where Harry was because Harry occasionally broke up 
these episodes. He had discovered that if he did nothing, pretty soon 
they would grow tired, and he would have done nothing if Joe 
Stickney had not switched him across the face. 


There was a time and place for everything under the sun. He was 
not conscious of the pain of the switch across his face, but every- 
thing inside him stopped. He heard someone call to Joe Stickney 
to let the kid alone, and probably Joe had never meant to strike 
him there, because he saw Joe drop the switch. He had never 
known until that second that he was born with an athlete's co- 
ordination of hand and eye. He only recalled that he felt cold and 
still, and he was no longer conscious of sound or faces around him. 
He only saw Joe Stickney, taller than he was and older. Mel Good- 
win had never struck anyone before. He did not even know that 
he was going to strike, and he was even surprised when he did, but 
instantly he knew that he must hit again. The thing to do when 
you were in a fight was to get there fustest with the mostest. He 
did not have an Indian snake's-eye ring that morning but he had 
luck. He heard Joe Stickney give a roar of pain and saw that he 
had landed square on Joe's nose and that blood was streaming down 
Joe's freckled face. 

You were either born with an instinct for fighting or else you 
weren't, and he must have been born with it because he knew that 
the boy was off balance and that time was wasting. He had no 
acquired skill but he was on top of Joe before Joe got his balance, 
and he did not kick and claw. He knew enough to concentrate on 
Joe's thin nose. He pounded on it with short, sharp blows as they 
rolled on the hard ground of the school yard. 

They were shouting to him to give it to Joe again, but he was 
cool enough to leave of! when Joe began to cry. He was cool enough 
to reach in a dreamlike way into his trousers pocket for the clean 
handkerchief his mother had put there. He was cool enough to go 
to the pump for cold water to wash his face and hands, and by the 
time the school bell rang he had even brushed the dust off his clothes. 

When Harry said at supper that Mel had been in a fight at 
school, no one in the family took it seriously because Mel did not 
even have a bruise or scratch. No one was sure of what had hap- 
pened until Dr. Byles knocked on the door that evening and asked 
if Mr. Goodwin would open up the drugstore. The Stickney boy 
had been hurt fighting. He had a broken nose. 


"Whoever did it kept pounding him in the same place," Dr. Byles 
said. "They say Mel did it, but it couldn't have been Mel." 

Mel was studying his spelling by the lamp on the kitchen table. 

"If I hadn't kept on hitting, he'd have got up," he said. 

It was a childish little story, and he had dwelt too long upon it, 
and yet later whenever he studied decisive battles in which every- 
thing had moved correctly, as at Austerlitz, Mel Goodwin used to 
think that his battle with Joe Stickney was also a model of its kind. 

He had studied boxing like everyone else at the Point. He had 
learned the quick one-two, the swing, the side step, the uppercut 
and how to ride a punch. In fact, in his last year he had been one 
of the best lightweights at the Academy. He had always preferred 
at the Point to be knocked down attacking rather than to cover up 
when he met a stronger opponent. He had developed this taste, 
of course, from that first fight at Hallowell, when he had faced with 
tactical correctness a heavier, stronger boy. He liked to think, how- 
ever, that if things had gone the other way, if Joe Stickney had 
smashed his nose, he would have gone on fighting without cry- 
babying. In fact he was sure of this because when he had been 
whipped several times later, usually by bigger boys, he had stayed 
on his feet as long as he had kept his senses, but these incidents 
had all occurred when he was bigger and stronger. At any rate, 
those few minutes in the school yard at Hallowell formed a sort of 
base line and a reference point which controlled him in the future 
in any kind of fight. 

As time went on he learned a number of simple skills at Hallo- 
well — how to handle a canoe, how to hitch the family horse, how 
to milk a cow and even how to plow. He also learned how to make 
a banana split and how to measure and to use the balance when 
he helped his father in back with the prescriptions. He could still 
wrap a package beautifully and seal it with hot sealing wax if 

He wished he could see the people in Hallowell, including his 
father and mother, his sister and brothers, as an adult should, but 
unfortunately he was still an adolescent when he left. In memory 
his father would always be a mild, careworn man, whose problems 


were remote from his own. His mother would always be someone 
irrationally devoted to him. The last time he ever saw her, she had 
told him to be sure to button up his overcoat. In his few brief return 
visits with his parents his life and theirs had fallen into the old design 
and they talked about school and about the neighbors as though he 
had never left. 

"It always beats me," his father had said on one visit, "what made 
you want to be a soldier. I always sort of hoped you'd be a doctor 
and take over old Byles's practice. I saved up money for you to go 
to medical school. It must have been those confounded Decoration 
Day parades. I guess you're doing all right, Mel, but I wish that 
you had stayed home." 

His father had been right. He never had recovered from a certain 
Decoration Day when the family had gone to Nashua to visit his 
mother's parents. 

The whole family had been asked to spend the day, and they 
were leaving at nine in the morning in order to reach Nashua in 
time for the parade. So many other families were leaving, too, for 
the day's outing, that the square was very crowded. Mel Goodwin 
could remember the starched dresses and the big bow ribbons of 
the little girls, and the billowy sleeves and long skirts of their 
mothers. He could remember particularly how hot and uncom- 
fortable his own Sunday suit was, and that his father had not 
wanted to go, and thus leave his clerk, Elmer Thomas, alone in 
the store. 

"It's hot, and there will be a big run on the soda fountain," Mr. 
Goodwin said, "and Elmer's always dropping glasses." 

"Now don't be hard on Elmer," Mrs. Goodwin said. "He can 
run the store for once, and you can have a good time with the chil- 
dren and me for once. They'll be grown-up and gone before we 
know it, and besides it's educational for the children." 

"What's educational?" Mr. Goodwin asked. 

"Why, the parade." 

"What?" asked Mr. Goodwin. "Seeing a lot of old men out of 


"The militia will be marching, too," Mrs. Goodwin said, "and 
besides, Father and Mother want to see the children." 

The boys were playing tag around the open trolley cars in the 
square, climbing on the running boards, whistling and yelling and 
getting ordered off again. 

"Robert," Mrs. Goodwin said, "don't you think it would be nice 
to give the children a soda at the store before they start? They'll 
all be thirsty before they get to Nashua." 

As soon as she asked if it would be nice, Melville knew that his 
father would agree. 

"Well, all right, Mother," he said, "but I don't want the children 
thinking they can go in any time and get free sodas. I caught Harry 
yesterday behind the fountain helping himself to Moxie. They'll 
have to have sarsaparilla today. We're overstocked on sarsaparilla." 

Melville still enjoyed sarsaparilla when he could get it, not root 
beer but regular sarsaparilla, although it was never as good as it 
used to be in Hallowell. 

The store was cool and shadowy that morning, full of the clean 
smells of perfume, soap and chemicals. 

"Sarsaparilla for everybody, Elmer," Mr. Goodwin said, "and you 
can have one for yourself. Easy, Elmer, on that syrup. Here, I'll 
fix these up myself." 

"Now, Robert," Mrs. Goodwin said, "Elmer is fixing the sodas 
very nicely." 

"All right, Mother," Mr. Goodwin said, "but just remember we 
have to get a living off this store. Melville, take your drink right 
down, and don't blow bubbles through the straw." 

"Now, Robert," Mrs. Goodwin said, "don't worry over every- 
thing. Melville's only trying to make it last." 

"By jingo," Mr. Goodwin said, "it's lucky somebody worries in 
this family. What are you looking at over there, Harry?" 

"At the candy," Harry said. "How about a licorice stick, Pa?" 

"Oh well," Mr. Goodwin said, "seeing it's a holiday, give them 
each three pink gumdrops, Elmer, and hurry with your sarsaparilla, 
Melville. It's time the cars were starting." 

Four veterans of the GAR were going to march in the parade, 


and everyone hung back to let them get on first. They were old 
men but still able to get around without canes, and their black felt 
hats and blue uniforms gave them a dignity which they completely 
lacked at other times of the year. Then Sam Jacques, the motorman, 
began calling to everyone else to get aboard, and he said the little 
ones could ride with him up front. 

"You, Melly," he said, "you can get up front." 

Melville found himself sitting next to Muriel Reece but he did 
not consider it a privilege. Muriel was a dumpy, fat little girl, with 
hair the same color as his own. 

"Melville Goodwin," Mrs. Reece called to him, "you take good 
care of Muriel." 

"Yes, Melville," Mrs. Goodwin called, "you take good care of 
Muriel," and then she said to Mrs. Reece loud enough for Melville 
to hear, "Don't they make a cute little couple?" 

"What are you chewing on in your mouth?" Muriel asked. 

"It's a gumdrop," Melville said. 

"Well, give me one," Muriel said. 

It was not fair, having to give up his last gumdrop. As far as he 
could recall, he did not say another word to Muriel all the way to 
Nashua. When she said it was nice riding up front, he did not 
bother to answer, and when she told him to stop squirming, he 
did not bother to answer. If anyone had told him that Muriel Reece 
would be his best girl someday, he never would have believed it; 
but it was nice riding up front in the trolley car to Nashua with 
the singing and the shouting behind him, with the soft May wind 
on his face, with the buds of the oak trees reddish pink and with 
the apple blossoms out and with a dizzying sense of speed. Trolley 
cars moved very fast in those days. 

He hardly recognized his Grandfather Allen in his GAR uniform. 
The old man had kept his figure and he looked tall and straight 
in it, and he had spent good money to have it tailored to fit him. 
Furthermore he wore riding gauntlets which were not regulation, 
but they were a part of his old cavalry equipment. 

"Well, well," he said. "Melville, ask your grandmother to give 
you a quarter of a dollar, and take your hat off when the flag goes 


by. I must be getting down the street. Will you have a cigar, Robert ?" 

"No thanks," Mr. Goodwin said. 

"Well, I will," Mr. Allen said, "and there's a little something in 
the parlor cupboard if you're thirsty, Robert." He walked away 
down the street with his riding gauntlets stuck in his belt, blowing 
rank puffs from his Pittsburgh stogie. 

"Oh dear," Melville heard his mother whisper, "I'm afraid Father's 
started drinking." 

If he had, Melville often thought, the old man knew how to hold 
his liquor and it had done him more good than harm that day in 

Perhaps it was not a good parade according to later standards, but 
Melville had no basis for comparison that morning. It was the first 
time he had ever heard a military band — if you could call the 
Nashua band military, when it played "Marching through Georgia." 
It was the first time he had ever seen the colors on parade. The 
beat of the band had put life into the wavering marching columns, 
even into the GAR. He had no way of knowing then that the 
volunteer militia company, sweating in their thick dress uniforms 
behind the veterans of the recent war with Spain, was an unimpres- 
sive outfit. He had never seen shouldered muskets. He had never 
heard an order given. The sight of that uneven marching company 
took Melville's breath away, and before he knew it he found him- 
self on the street following the parade with other boys from Nashua. 
The band was like the flute of the Pied Piper playing its tune to 
childhood. He would have followed the band anywhere and per- 
haps that band was playing for him still. 

He was still "Marching through Georgia" when he sat on the 
steps of his grandfather's front porch later listening to the old men 
talk. There was no doubt by then that old Mr. Allen and his con- 
temporaries had been drinking. Their coats were unbuttoned, their 
hats were off and their tongues were very loose. One of the old 
men was talking about Malvern Hill and another was speaking of 
Fredericksburg, and his grandfather was saying that he had per- 
sonally seen General Grant. 

"Well now, Melville," his grandfather said, "maybe you'll go to a 


war sometime yourself — but maybe you'd better run inside now. 
. . . Wait a minute. Here's a twenty-five-cent piece for you." 

"Melville," his grandmother said to him in the kitchen, "leave 
those old men alone. They're only telling stories." And then she 
said to his mother, "They ought to be down at the Hall where 
they'd be out of the way." 

The next Saturday, when there was no school, he went alone to 
the Rowell Memorial Library, a small musty building in spite of its 
large Romanesque windows, and he asked Miss Fallon, the librarian, 
if he might take out a book. 

"The children's shelf is over diere," Miss Fallon said. "I suppose 
you'd like a nice boys' book." 

He had never been in the library before. He walked timidly to 
the children's shelf, and in this manner he encountered Under 
Otis in the Philippines by Edward Stratemeyer and the rest 
of the Old Glory series and also Bob Raeburn at West Point. 

"Can I sit here and read one now?" he asked. 

"Why, yes indeed," Miss Fallon said. 

She did not know that she was talking to General Melville A. 
Goodwin or that she was directing his first steps on the road to war. 



Time to Call Him "Mel" 

The time was close to half past eleven. We had sat listening for 
the last three hours while Melville Goodwin searched through the 
memories of his childhood, and when he paused we all remained 
attentively and respectfully silent. Our respect, I think, stemmed 
more from the complete honesty of his effort than from its pic- 

Melville Goodwin pushed himself out of his chair, squared his 
shoulders, glanced at his wrist watch, and the folds disappeared 
instantly from his blouse. 

"Twenty-three twenty-eight," he said, but the spell he had cast 
over us was not entirely broken. His distinct and occasionally mo- 
notonous voice was still with us. A part of General Goodwin had 
not yet returned from Hallowell, New Hampshire. 

"Of course," he said, "there was plenty of time to think back 
there in Hallowell. Do any of you like ballads?" 

A sudden authority in his voice snapped us all to attention. 

"Ballads?" Phil Bentley asked. "What ballads, General?" 

Our minds were still snared by Under Otis in the Philippines, 
and it was an effort to follow the GeneraFs new train of thought. 

"Macaulay," the General said, "Lays of Ancient Rome." He 
cleared his throat, and I glanced at Phil Bentley, who appeared 
bemused. He obviously could not believe that Mel Goodwin was 
about to give us a recitation, but this is exactly what was happening. 

Then out spa\e brave Horatius, 
The Captain of the Gate: 
"To every man upon this earth 
Death comet h soon or late. 


And how can man die better 
Than facing fearful odds 
For the ashes of his fathers, 
And the temples of his Gods?" 

The General paused as though he expected that some one of us 
would make an intelligent comment, but no one spoke. 

"You know," he said, "I was able to recite the whole thing once. 
Of course, whoever was handling the Rome defense perimeter 
shouldn't have depended on Janiculum, and it wasn't true that a 
thousand could well be stopped by three. Cavalry could have cleared 
the bridge, and Lars Porsena had cavalry. We had the same situa- 
tion at Remagen — but there's real thought in that poem." 

"I'm afraid I haven't read 'Horatius at the Bridge' for quite a 
while," Phil Bentley said. 

Mel Goodwin smiled in a bright chilly way. 

"It was just a stray thought," he said. "I've never had orders 
before to pour my ego all over the place, but you asked for it — 
I didn't." 

Phil Bentley laughed nervously. 

"It is getting late," he said, "and I don't want to get you tired, sir. 
We might close up now and start again tomorrow morning if you 
don't mind. All this material is really very useful." 

"Oh, I don't mind," Mel Goodwin said. "This is like a prisoner 
interrogation, isn't it ? And you're pretty good at it, too, Mr. Bentley." 

"I ought to be s " Phil Bentley answered. "You see, it's the way I 
earn my living." 

"Come on, Flax," the General said. "They're going to let us of? 

He and Flax could find their way upstairs themselves, he said. If 
it was all right, we would have breakfast at eight sharp, and he 
would be glad to start again directly after breakfast. 

"Well, good night, young lady," he said to Miss Fineholt. "Good 
night, Sid." He stopped, at the library door as though he had forgot- 
ten something. "I wouldn't say I'm obliged to you for this," he said 
to Phil Bentley, "but just the same, it's quite an experience. I have 


been before a lot of examining boards and a couple of investigative 
bodies, but I have never been through anything quite like this. Good 
night. I suppose you want to sit around and have a Goodwin session, 
don't you?" 

Of course it was exactly what we were going to do, but Melville 
Goodwin spoke again before any of us could answer. 

"Well, go ahead. I don't blame you," he said. "I didn't know I'd 
remember so much. It's a funny thing — the past." His voice trailed 
off, and his gaze was not focused on anything. "Maybe there isn't 
really any past. Maybe it's all back there waiting for you to find 
it. . . . Well, good night." 

The door closed on General Goodwin, and Phil Bentley looked as 
though his efforts as Master of Ceremonies had tired him. He took 
off his glasses and put them in his pocket. Without them his face 
looked blank and naked. He glanced at Miss Fineholt, who was ar- 
ranging her notes, and then he found his handkerchief and rubbed 
it across his forehead. 

"Sid," he said, "did you ever go through anything like that?" 

"No," I said, "not exactly." And for a second we were bound to- 
gether by some unspoken sort of understanding. 

Phil Bentley and I had been trained in the same practical school 
and spoke the same trade language. I was familiar myself with the 
problems of an interview. I knew that he was trying to find some 
salient feature in Melville Goodwin's character which, when prop- 
erly stressed, would make the General stand out as an individual, 
and I could almost see Phil's mind retracing those last three hours 
in search of a central theme. 

"You know," he said, "I have a certain reputation for these pieces 
I do. I've worked on actors and artists and producers, judges, poli- 
ticians, labor leaders, industrialists and pugilists, but I've never seen 
anyone like Goodwin." 

"Well," I said, "everyone's different. At least everyone ought 
to be." 

"Yes," Phil Bentley said, "but with everyone I've done up to now, 
there has been some sort of reference point. I wish I knew what 

, 5 6 

bothers me about this. I can't seem to put my ringer on it. I don't 
know whether he's bright or stupid. He's all there, but I don't know 
how to begin taking him apart." 

"Listen, Phil," I said, "maybe you've never done a general. Gen- 
erals can't afford to be individuals until they get three stars, and this 
one has two. He's only a major general." 

Phil Bentley did not answer me directly. 

"Maybe I've underrated him," he said. "Maybe he's got a sense of 
humor and his tongue in his cheek. Maybe Horatio Alger had a 
sense of humor." 

"What's Alger got to do with it?" I asked. 

Phil Bentley stood in the center of the room looking lost without 
his glasses. 

"You see what I mean, punching that boy in the nose and the 
parade, and the 'Old Glory Boys' and 'Horatius at the Bridge.' It's 
all too good, Sidney. If Horatio Alger had wanted to write a boys' 
book about a military hero, that's exactly the sort of stuff he would 
have used. That's what I mean. It's too damned perfect to be true. 
Goodwin can't be the way he describes himself. No one can be a 
complete 'Old Glory Boy.' " 

We stared at each other silently, each trying unsuccessfully to iden- 
tify himself with Melville Goodwin. 

"Look, Phil," I said, "maybe we were 'Old Glory Boys' once our- 
selves. The Alger books made a lot of sense to me once." 

Phil Bentley shook his head impatiently and his hands moved in 
quick, nervous gestures. 

"Yes, Sidney," he said, "yes — I'm not a damn fool; but everyone 
outgrows that sort of thing. No one could possibly stay that way and 
keep out of an institution. Nothing is as simple as that, Sid. Good- 
win isn't as easy as that." 

"I don't know," I said. "It's just possible he might be." 

It was just possible, I was thinking, that Bentley and I had both 
become too complicated to appreciate any longer the simplicity of a 
single driving purpose. 

"No, no," Phil Bentley said, "no one could be like that." 

Yet I was still thinking that we should face the possibility, and 

J 57 

that memoirs I had read written by military men all fell into the 
same harsh pattern. 

"Just remember, he isn't like you and me, Phil," I said. "He hasn't 
had to be worried by the same things. He's led a very protected life." 

Phil Bentley shook his head. He was laying aside his problems for 
the night. 

"Come on," he said, "let's close up shop for a while. Make a note 
to call up the office tomorrow morning and have them send some- 
one down to take candid photographs of him, will you, Myra?" 

After putting out the lights, and before I started upstairs, I saw 
Farouche in his large, comfortable basket beneath the table in the 
hall. As soon as he saw me, he leaped up and seized his rubber ring 
and walked toward me wagging his plumed tail. 

"Go back to bed," I told him, but instead of going, he dropped 
the ring carelessly at my feet and only grabbed it when I stooped to 
pick it up. Farouche himself had a simple mind and in his own way 
was an "Old Glory Boy." 

The lights were out in our room upstairs, but Helen, like Farouche, 
was still awake. 

"Is that you, Sid?" she asked. 

"Who did you think it might be ?" I asked her. "The Joint Chiefs ?" 

"Naturally," she said. "I've been learning a lot about rank." 

"Oh," I said, "you mean you've been talking to Mrs. Goodwin?" 

"Who else would there be?" she said. "We sat up until half past 
ten. She was very sweet to me, but I didn't have the rank." 

"What else did you talk about?" I asked. 

"Mostly about the General when he was a younger officer at a 
place called Fort Bailey," she said. "It was before they were ordered 
to the Philippines. Robert was born at the base hospital. Sid, it all 
gave me a very funny feeling." 

She had to think for a while when I asked her what sort of feeling. 

"I seemed so detached from it," she said. "I couldn't place myself 
in it at all." 

It is not wholly fair to say that Melville Goodwin intentionally 
made a command post out of Savin Hill. Actually he did his best to 

i 5 8 

be a guest and not an occupying force. His only difficulty was that 
he had not been obliged for years to adjust himself to any environ- 
ment, because circumstances had invariably compelled him to manu- 
facture his own. He was most appreciative at breakfast the next 
morning. If I felt rebuked at finding him waiting with Colonel 
Flax when I arrived downstairs at four minutes after eight, this 
only arose from old habit on my part and not because of his 

"I should have told you to sit right down, sir," I said, "and to 
ring for breakfast." 

He smiled in a gracious way that indicated that no apology was 
necessary. His face shone from assiduous shaving, and he did not 
need to say that he had slept well. 

"Think nothing of it, Sid," he said. "Bentley and the girl aren't 
down yet either. I guess I ran that writer ragged last night." 

Nevertheless I had kept him waiting, and without meaning to do 
so, he was implying that Phil Bentley, too, was keeping him wait- 
ing — but there was no need for apology, he said. He was a grateful 
guest in a civilian house and he was not a martinet. He was only 
accustomed to having things run on schedule. 

"You didn't run him ragged," I said, "but these newspaper people 
are always late in the morning. What would you like for breakfast, 

"Bacon and eggs and coffee," the General said, "the eggs sunny 
side up. Fm just a country boy, and I like a country breakfast, but I 
can settle for anything, as long as there's coffee." 

"It's just the same with me, Mr. Skelton," Colonel Flax said, "as 
long as there's coffee." 

"Are you just a country boy, too, Colonel Flax?" I asked. 

"Yes, sir," Colonel Flax said, "I was raised in Kansas." 

"Is that so?" the General said. "Whereabouts in Kansas?" 

"Forty miles outside of Topeka, General," the colonel said. 

"Topeka?" Mel Goodwin said. "I saw Topeka last back in '40 on 
my way to Texas when I was with the Inspector General's office. 
There was a hotel there with pitchers shaped like birds." 

"You mean the Jayhawk, sir?" the colonel said. 


"That's right," the General said. "It was summer and it was hot 
as hell." 

"It does get pretty hot there in the summer," Colonel Flax said. 

"But I had a fine T-bone steak," the General said, "and it was rea- 
sonable. I was trying to save money out of travel pay." 

"They still have good steaks in Topeka, sir," the colonel said. 

The conversation moved in a well-worn groove. We were back in 
an officers* mess where one talked politely about nothing, while one 
thought of the day and the timetable. 

"I wonder where that writer is," the General said, and he rose 
abruptly and placed his napkin on the table. 

"Maybe I had better go and find out, sir," I said. 

"Oh no," the General answered, "don't disturb him, Sid. Let's 
you and I go for a walk. I like a walk after breakfast. You wait 
for the writer, will you, Colonel? Tell him we'll be back in twenty 

It was another fine bright morning with a cool faint haze over the 
fields around us. 

"Come on," he said, "let's get moving. I want to see those stables." 

"There's nothing in them," I said. 

"That's all right," he answered, "let's see them anyway," and then 
he added, "I'd like to get this interviewing over. Muriel says I ought 
to be down in Washington, finding out what's cooking." 

He was walking rapidly, and I fell into military step beside 

"It looks as though you're all fixed here, son," he said. "I wish I 
knew what's going to happen to me." 

Somehow I was disturbed when Mel Goodwin said I was all fixed. 

"I don't know," I told him. "This is all new to me. We only bought 
this place this spring, and as you said last night, it's quite an instal- 

He was striking out at a four-mile-an-hour marching clip, eyes 

"You want to take it easy, son," he said. "That's what I keep tell- 
ing myself, and that's what I've been telling Muriel. She ought to 
know there's a shake-up whenever a war is over." 


"I don't like being tied down," I told him, "but Helen does." 

"You can't blame her," the General said. "Women don't like un- 
certainty. I don't blame Muriel, but she ought to know that I can't 
tell her what the score is. I'm a combat leader, and there isn't any 
combat, and I'm too young to retire. I can't pick up the marbles 

We had reached the stable. The door stood open, and we walked 
inside and looked over the empty box stalls that still smelled of Mr. 
Winlock's vanished horses. 

"I feel sorry for horses," Mel Goodwin said. "They were bred and 
trained for centuries as a means of locomotion and now they're orna- 
mental pets. Maybe I'm like horses. Anyway, right now I feel empty 
like this stable. I've spent all my life learning how to fight in a war. 
Being in the field has spoiled my taste for desk work. Well, I've 
had my chance, and now the whole show's over." 

"Maybe there'll be another one," I said. 

Mel Goodwin turned on his heel, striking out again at the same 
cadence. "I was just getting to be good," he said. "Son, I can handle 
a division the way a chauffeur drives a car, and I could do the same 
with a corps, and now I've got to forget it. I don't want to sit around 
waiting for another war." 

The way he spoke of himself aroused my sympathy but obviously 
it was impossible to maintain a continual state of war to give him 

"A lot of other boys are growing up," I said. "You can still teach 
them, Mel." 

I had used his first name again without thinking of it, but then 
we were on a different basis from any we had been on since his 

"I suppose Muriel was talking about me at dinner last night," he 

"Yes," I answered, "of course she was." 

"Did she ask you questions?" 

"No, she just told me about you," I answered. 

"I wish she wouldn't always tell about me," he said. 

"Why, she's proud of you, Mel," I answered. 


"Sid," he said, "I wish I weren't so restless. By the way, there's 
something I've been meaning to ask you." 

I knew immediately what it was that he had been meaning to 
ask me. He had been intending to ask it ever since he arrived at 
Savin Hill, and the question stood between us like a tangible shape, 
of which we were both painfully conscious. 

"Has — er — Dottie Peale ever mentioned me when you've seen 

"Why, yes," I said, "occasionally." 

"I suppose she's heard about this Berlin thing. I suppose she's in 
New York now," he said. 

"Why, yes, Dottie's in New York," I answered. 

We were both trying to speak casually, and suddenly I felt old and 
weary of the world. I wanted very much to tell him not to make a 
fool of himself and to forget Dottie Peale. 

"Well," he said, "let's get back and get started. Maybe that writer's 
awake. I really ought to be in Washington." 

As a matter of fact, Phil Bentley, who only took orange juice and 
coffee in the morning, was down and through with his breakfast by 
the time we reached the house. 

"Are you ready for me, General?" he asked. 

Melville A. Goodwin was himself again. He fixed Philip Bentley 
with a steely eye before replying. 

"Yes," he answered, "I've been ready and waiting for some time, 
Mr. Bentley." 

"Well," Phil Bentley said, "then let's get going, General. Is it all 
right to use the library, Sid?" 

It was perfectly all right to use the library. 

"Now let's see," Phil Bentley said, "where were we?" 

Physically we were just exactly where we had been the night be- 
fore. The General had seated himself in an armchair in the half- 
relaxed, half -alert way that I remembered in Paris. If it had not been 
for Phil Bentley and Miss Fineholt, we might have been in any army 
office talking over a military problem. 

"General Goodwin was talking about the books he used to read," 
Miss Fineholt said, thumbing through her notes. 


"Oh, yes," Phil Bentley said, "that's so," and he adjusted his horn- 
rimmed spectacles. "I wonder, General, if you read the personal 
memoirs of U. S. Grant back there in Hallowell." 

It was clever of Phil Bentley. 

"I read them when I was about fourteen," the General said. "The 
book was in the Memorial Library along with Battles and Leaders 
of the Civil War." 

Phil Bentley smiled faintly, and I knew that he liked the answer. 

"I had never read it until last evening," he said. "Sid has it here, 
and I took it upstairs with me. It's a good book, isn't it?" 

He was like a trial lawyer as he asked the question, moving gently 
into a telling phase of a cross-examination. 

"It's a great book," the General said. "I've read it a good many 
times since. Personally, I think many military critics underrate U. S. 

Phil Bentley nodded, but his voice was quietly impersonal. 

"How do you think he compares with Robert E. Lee, Gen- 

There was a careful silence before Mel Goodwin answered. 

"I don't like making broad pronouncements," he said carefully, 
"and maybe we still use the Civil War too much in military think- 
ing. I don't want to stick my neck out in print and I know that Lee 
said that McClellan was the best Union general he fought against 
by all odds. Mars* Bob must have been losing his memory when he 
said that. For my money Grant was a better man than Lee any day 
in the week and twice on Sunday. If Grant had been Lee at Gettys- 
burg, that Fancy Dan, J. E. B. Stuart, wouldn't have ever kited off 
to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Longstreet would have moved when 
he was told in the Peach Orchard, instead of tidying himself up. 
Otherwise he would have been busted home and Pickett or some 
quick boy would have replaced him — but don't quote me. Sam 
Grant doesn't need me to back him up in print." 

"Would it be right to say he's a special hero of yours?" Phil Bent- 
ley asked. 

Mel Goodwin passed his hand over his closely cropped hair. 

"I haven't any heroes now," he said, "but every kid has heroes. 

l6 3 

When things weren't going right for me at the Point, I used to think 
that I was Grant." 

"So you used to try to be like him?" Phil Bentley asked. 

Melville A. Goodwin stared at his questioner with a reserve that I 
had seen on the faces of other officers speaking to someone outside 
the service. 

"That's too easy, and don't put that in your article, son," he said. 
"Fm not another Grant. He had small feet but his boots are too big 
for me, but — all right — every kid has to have a hero. All right, 
I used to think about him quite a lot when I was there in Hallowell." 



Clausewitz Would Have Concurred 

He liked Grant, Melville Goodwin said, because young Grant had 
been brought up like him, in a small provincial town, the child of 
plain parents. Grant's father kept a tannery, and his own father ran 
the local drugstore, and this gave them a bond in common. In many 
ways Sam Grant's small Ohio town resembled Hallowell. Everyone 
had about the same standard of living in Hallowell, and even today 
Melville Goodwin was frank to confess that he did not understand 
much about large sums of money, except in terms of military ap- 
propriation. His life there in Hallowell, he used to think, helped him 
with troops later, because he was always able to identify himself with 
the backgrounds of most enlisted men. No one in the service was 
provincial, except possibly in a service way, yet underneath the 
service polish lay the small-town mark, and he was proud of it. The 
youth in Hallowell were just boys together and later boys and girls 
together, when they began pairing off. He was never a leader, be- 
cause he had never liked to stick his neck out in Hallowell or any- 
where else. He was not even a conspicuous figure there, because he 
never wanted to be different from the crowd. He would never have 
lived it down if he had told anyone that he wished to go to West 
Point, because everyone would have called him "Soldier" Goodwin 
or something of the sort. He never did tell anyone except Muriel 
Reece, but as he had said earlier, the world of Hallowell lay behind 
him intact. 

He was fourteen years old when he told Muriel that he wanted to 
be a soldier, and then he was in high school, but he was small for his 
age and he still wore knickerbockers. One cold afternoon in March ; 


his father had asked him to help out in the drugstore because Elmer 
Thomas was ill at home with the grippe. The afternoon was so gray 
and dark that his father had turned on the new electric lights. Mel- 
ville could still remember the green shades and the quivering car- 
bon filaments of those early light bulbs, each of which had its own 
individual switch. No one he had ever known, Mel often thought, 
had his father's eye for detail. Mr. Goodwin would have made a 
fine sergeant. He could carry the whole store's complicated inventory 
in his head, he could find dirt and dust anywhere, and nothing ever 
quite suited him. Melville was polishing the glass of the showcases 
for the third time, and his father in his spotless white coat was stand- 
ing watching him, when their congressman, Mr. Orrin Curtain, 
entered the store. 

"That's better," Mr. Goodwin was saying, and he leaned sideways 
to view the glass from another angle, "but it isn't done yet, Melville. 
Don't pretend that you don't see the streaks. Oh, good afternoon, 
Orrin," and his father and Mr. Curtain shook hands. "When did 
you arrive, Orrin?" 

"On the four o'clock trolley, Robert," Mr. Curtain said in a fine 
ringing voice. "I arrived in Nashua yesterday from Washington and 
I cannot go back again without seeing my good friends in Hal- 
lo well. . . . And how are Mrs. Goodwin and the young people?" 

"They're fine, Orrin," Mr. Goodwin said. "Everyone is fine." 

"And how is business?" Mr. Curtain asked. 

"Well, it isn't all I'd like it to be," Mr. Goodwin said, "but I'm 
still keeping busy." 

"I was mentioning your store only the other day to Senator Lodge 
in Washington," Mr. Curtain said. "I met him buying a headache 
powder on F Street. I told him you had the best-run store in my 
district, Robert." 

"Well, that's kind of you," Mr. Goodwin said. "What sort of 
headache powders does he use?" 

"It's interesting that you ask that," Mr. Curtain said. "I don't re- 
member. What do you recommend for headache powders? I'd like 
to pass the information on to Senator Lodge." 

Melville was working hard on the glass showcase, but he still 


could listen and feel a glow of pride that Mr. Curtain in his tight- 
fitting overcoat and derby hat and gloves talked to his father in such 
a friendly way. 

"I was just thinking, Robert," Mr. Curtain was saying, "that it 
will be time soon to do garden planting. The Department of Agri- 
culture has a very fine assortment of vegetable seeds this year, and 
I might be helpful along these lines, if you could bring the subject 
up to any customers, Robert, and forward their names and addresses 
to me. I'm almost certain they'll get seeds promptly and a much bet- 
ter selection, too, than were available before I was elected." 

"Why, certainly," Mr. Goodwin said. "I'm always glad to help in 
any little way I can." 

"I know," Mr. Curtain said, "and when I say I don't forget my 
friends, I mean it. Look at those electric lights. You and I know how 
electric lights got to Hallo well, don't we, Robert? There's no use 
being in my position if I can't be helpful. And who's your young 
assistant, Robert ? Wait, don't tell me. He's your own boy, isn't he ? 
Why, this is young Melvin." 

"You certainly do remember everything," Mr. Goodwin said. 
"That's pretty near to it, but his name is Melville, after his grand- 
father Allen." 

"Melville," Mr. Curtain said, "of course it isn't Melvin. I apolo- 
gize, young man. Well now, Melville, when I was a bey, I used to 
like to plant radishes. How about some radishes, Melville? You'll 
get them as soon as I get to Washington. I'll see about it personally." 

"Thank you, sir," Melville said. 

"It's fine to see a boy who isn't loafing," Mr. Curtain said, "but 
helping his daddy out around the store." 

Melville was working on the showcase again but he could feel 
their eyes on him. 

"How old is Melville now?" Mr. Curtain asked. "About four- 
teen? If everything goes right, I might help out with Melville. I'm 
not promising but there might be an appointment to West Point." 

It sounded exactly like one of the books he had read at the 
Memorial Library. He kept working on the showcase, but his head 
felt light; all of him felt light. 


"Well, that's kind o£ you to think of it, Orrin," he heard his father 
say, "but I'd sort of like Mel here to be a doctor. Dr. Byles and I talk 
about it sometimes." 

Then the telephone rang, and its bell cut through everything like 
a knife. 

"Hello," he heard his father saying, "yes, I can send Melville right 
up with it, Mrs. Reece." 

"Nothing wrong at the Fleeces', I hope," Mr. Curtain said. 

"Sam Reece has grippe," Mr. Goodwin answered, and he deftly 
wrapped a small bottle and put an elastic around it. "This is the 
grippe season. Here, take this up to the Recces', Melville, and then 
you'd better go home and do your studying." 

"Good-by, Melville," Mr. Curtain said. "I wish I were a boy again, 
with everything ahead of me." 

Melville took the neatly wrapped package and went out in back 
for his overcoat and his rubbers. When he left the square and the 
green and then turned to Prospect Street, the slushy ground beneath 
him was completely devoid of its old texture of reality. His wagon 
was hitched to a star in the shape of Mr. Orrin Curtain, that big- 
hearted, selfless man upon whose word you could rely implicitly be- 
cause he was a member of the Congress of the United States. It was 
as though the Constitution of the United States had assured Melville 
that it would send him to West Point, and it made no difference 
whatsoever that his father had dismissed the promise. From the 
moment Mr. Curtain had spoken, he knew that he would go to West 

Dirty melting snowdrifts still covered much of the sodden ground. 
The eaves of the Congregational Church were dripping icicles, and 
the air was so thick with the damp humidity of the river that it 
seemed to stick in his throat. No climatic condition in any other 
country he had known compared to March in the northeastern 
United States, but Melville was not conscious of climate. It might 
as well have been June with peonies blooming in the flower beds. 
He passed his own house without noticing that it was there and he 
hardly knew he was at the Recces' until he had passed the ornately 
turned pillars of the veranda. 


"Hello, Melville," Mrs. Reece said, when she opened the front 
door. "My, you got here quickly." 

When she asked him to step inside and get warm by the parlor 
stove, he must have thanked her, but he was still in his daydream. 
The Reeces' parlor off the front hall was comfortably warm. He 
could see the coals glowing through the isinglass in the door of a 
hot-air stcve, ornately trimmed with nickel, and Muriel Reece was 
sitting at a table working at her algebra. 

"Here's Melville, Muriel," Mrs. Reece said. "He's coming in to 
warm himself up for a minute. I'll just run upstairs now with the 

"Take off your rubbers, Mel," Muriel said, "so you won't track 
mud on the carpet." 

Seeing Muriel was no novelty. They both had desks in Miss 
Macy's room at the high school, and neither of them had ever taken 
the slightest interest in the other. 

"I'm only going to stay a minute," he said. 

"You'll track in dirt just the same," Muriel said. 

The Reece parlor was a very nice, comfortable room, somewhat 
more elaborate than the Goodwin parlor, which was natural because 
Mr. Reece was sales manager and vice president at the hat factory. 
There was a handsome Brussels carpet on the floor and a comfortable 
sofa and a Morris chair, with a smoker's stand beside it, and a book- 
case near it containing Ridpath's Great Races of Mankind. The lamp 
on a cherry table in the center of the room was already lighted, and 
Muriel, with her yellow hair in two long braids, leaned over her 
book, half in the shadow and half in the lamplight. She looked ex- 
actly like any other girl in high school freshman year. She was wear- 
ing a brown, useful-looking dress, with a pleated skirt reaching 
halfway between ankle and knee. She had not put up her hair and 
she was not yet wearing a shirtwast. Girls usually did these things 
only in the second year at Hallowell High. 

"I'm doing my algebra," Muriel said. "Have you done yours yet?" 

If you were a boy at Hallowell High, it was fashionable to be 
sloppy with your homework, and Melville had done nothing on his 


"Why don't you sit down and do it now?" Muriel asked. 

"All right," Melville said. "I may as well, now that I'm here." 

They were on simultaneous equations, and he remembered the 
example still. 

"You haven't got it right," he said. 

Muriel had always been pretty dumb at algebra. He pulled a 
straight-backed golden oak chair to the table beside her and picked 
up a pencil. 

"Now look," he said, "you do it this way." 

The great thing about figures was that they were either right or 
wrong. There was no middle ground. There might be two ways 
about Ivanhoe, which they were studying in English, but there were 
no two ways about algebra. 

"You smell all over drugs," Muriel said. 

"Well, I've been working down to the store," he told her. 

"I don't mind," Muriel said. "It's a nice smell. What girl do you 
like best in school, Melville?" 

"I don't know," Melville said. "I've never thought." 

"It's just the same way with me about boys," Muriel said. "All the 
girls are beginning to talk about boys. I don't know what boy I like 
best either." 

He had never conversed for such a long while with a girl, and it 
occurred to him that Muriel had changed without his having noticed. 
She was no longer fat and dumpy. Instead, she was almost thin, and 
her hair was the color of pulled molasses candy. She did not have 
as many freckles, and her mouth was no longer as big as it had been. 

"You're awfully good at algebra," Muriel said. 

"Oh," he said, "algebra is easy." 

"I guess we'd better keep on with these old examples," Muriel 
said. "It's silly just to sit talking, isn't it?" 

"Yes," Melville said, "I guess it's kind of silly." 

"When you grow up," she said, "I suppose you'll work in the drug- 

"No, I won't," he said. "I'm going to West Point." 

He had told her without thinking, but he was glad that he had 
told her. She turned quickly in her chair to face him. 


"Oh, go on," she said. "You're fooling." 

"You wait and see," he said. "It's a secret. Don't tell anyone, but 
you wait and see." 

He could remember the next moment as though it had just 
happened, not that anything in particular did happen. He 
was back again in the Reeces' parlor and Muriel was looking 
at him, and he could hear the ticking again of the clock on the 

"Of course I won't tell anybody," Muriel said. "Oh, Mel, I think 
that's awfully nice. You look sort of like a soldier." 

It wasn't a memorable speech, but somehow nothing that anyone 
had ever said to him had ever sounded quite that way. 

General Goodwin colored slightly and cleared his throat. 

"Bentley," he said, "you have certainly got me going. I don't know 
why I should run on this way about Muriel in front of strangers but 
you've got me thinking about those days. We were just kids like any 
other kids. Hell, you've got me thinking of it and I like to think of 
it. I'm proud of it, and kid stuff is pretty funny sometimes, but just 
you mind, Bentley, all of this is off the record — strictly off the 
record. I don't know why but I consider you cleared. Do you under- 

"Yes, sir," Phil Bentley said. 

Generals liked to talk off the record. If anyone was cleared, they 
often enjoyed being confidential, and the words "off the record" 
always had a magic of their own for the military mind. 

The next morning, just by accident, Melville happened to be start- 
ing for school just as Muriel walked by his house, and he walked 
to school with her, and when school was over, they started home 
together at the same time — but he was always sure that walking 
to school with Muriel had started just by accident. 

Sex was something that every normal individual had to encounter 
sometime, and it always seemed to Melville Goodwin, from hearing 
others talk of their adventures, that a good deal of an individual's 
future and his attitude toward women in general depended on this 


first encounter. Perhaps, looking backward, it was reasonable to 
assume that his innocuous conversation with Muriel Reece that after- 
noon was his first true encounter with the biological urge and that 
he and Muriel had really chosen each other as they sat there doing 
algebra. From that time on Muriel had always kept a cool eye on 
his behavior. When Eunice Rogers, who was the prettiest girl in the 
high school class, passed him a note in the hall that April which read, 
"Somebody loves you," Muriel asked him on the way home from 
school what the note had said, and he showed it to her. When Muriel 
made a disgusted face at the contents of the note, he could sympa- 
thize with her distaste, though it was not his fault that Eunice had 
given it to him. He had never paid any attention to Eunice Rogers, 
though her hair was up and she wore shirtwaists with little butter- 
flies and things embroidered on them. Eunice might be good- 
looking, Muriel said — certainly Eunice was thinking about her 
looks all the time. She even kept a pocket mirror, a comb and violet 
talcum powder in her desk. The truth was that Eunice and her 
friend, Helene Dumont, the French Canadian girl, could not talk 
about anything but boys and kissing. The truth was, and Melville 
might as well know it, Eunice Rogers was getting boy-crazy. She 
was always writing those "Somebody loves you'* notes and giving 
them to boys. Muriel was sorry for Eunice Rogers and sorry for her 
father and mother; her own mother said that the Rogerses were very 
ordinary. Nothing was sillier than writing flirt notes, and Muriel 
hoped that Melville had not answered the note . . . but then if he 
wanted to be silly, too, it was entirely up to him . . . but she knew 
that Melville was not the silly kind. 

If you were a girl, Muriel said, and if you liked a boy and thought 
that you might marry him someday, after you had finished with 
high school, you did not have to send him flirt notes — if he was 
the sort of boy you wanted to marry someday. You did not have to 
kiss him either until you were engaged to be married — but then 
perhaps boys were different from girls. If Melville ever felt as silly 
as that, if Melville ever felt that he had to hold somebody's hand, 
he did not have to make himself laughed at by sending flirt notes to 
Eunice Rogers. If Melville ever felt silly that way, and she hoped 


lie uever would . . . Muriel stopped talking and stared grimly and 
coldly in front of her, while they passed the Memorial Library. 

"If you have to be silly," Muriel said, "you can hold hands with 
me, but if you try to kiss me, I'll slap you." 

"I didn't say I wanted to kiss you," Melville said. 

"All right," Muriel said, "then don't be silly." 

Melville was embarrassed and confused. It was not his fault that 
Eunice had passed him that note. He wanted to escape into a sim- 
pler world, uncomplicated by Muriel or by any other girl. He had 
never wanted to hold Muriel's hand, and there was no reason for 
her to suggest that he did, and the last thing in the world he had 
ever thought of was kissing Muriel Recce. Yet in Hallowell, if you 
did not want to be peculiar, it was just as well to have a girl friend. 
If the boys began jesting with him in a clumsy way about Muriel 
Reece, he could come right back at them because they were not im- 
mune themselves. It was due to Muriel, after all, that other girls let 
him alone, because they began to understand that he was Muriel's 
property, and he learned a lot about women from Muriel, not as 
much as the man in Kipling's poem, who took his fun where he 
found it — but quite a lot about women. 

A few changes in the links of circumstance might have altered his 
life. If he had not delivered Dr. Byles's standard grippe prescription 
at the Reeces', he might have answered that note of Eunice Rogers's, 
and if he had answered the note, he might have been the one 
who had married Eunice, instead of his brother Harry, who be- 
gan to grow silly about Eunice toward the middle of the ensuing 

His brother Harry, as soon as school was over, went to work 
in Mason's garage at Nashua, and shortly afterwards Harry induced 
their father to purchase a secondhand Model T Ford, the first car the 
family ever owned. Melville would never forget his first sight of the 
brass radiator and the brass carbide lamps as Harry drove it into 
the yard, or how the whole thing shook and pulsed when you 
cranked the motor after you set the spark and gas. No one worried 
much about licenses in those days, so Melville had learned to drive 
it right away, and he was fascinated by the mechanism and by its 


power. When he was in that Ford with the windshield open, feel- 
ing the wind on his face, he could almost forget about West Point. 

In time all his ambitions might have been changed by that Ford, 
if it had not happened that during the summer a regiment of New 
Hampshire militia had made a practice route march from Man- 
chester and had camped on the old fairgrounds at Blair, five miles 
away from Hallowell. There were always first times for everything. 
He went to the fairgrounds at Blair, driving the Model T, and for 
the first time he saw troops. It was the first time he was fifteen years 
old and he would never be fifteen again. It was the first time he had 
worn long trousers, even if they were only work pants bought in 
Manchester. It was the first time, too, that he and Muriel Reece had 
been anywhere alone together, because he had asked Muriel to drive 
with him to Blair. 

It was an August afternoon, so still and hot that the leaves on the 
elms hung motionless and exhausted. Now that the older boys were 
working, his father had thought that Melville also ought to find 
something to do during his vacation, but his mother had said that 
Melville had been growing pretty fast and that before long he would 
have to work all his life like everyone else. He had received good 
marks his first year at high school, and she thought he deserved a 
rest. His father said that boys got into trouble doing nothing, 
especially when they were around Melville's age. It would be all 
right if he did not want to work indoors in the drugstore, because 
maybe he ought to have fresh air and exercise but playing ball on 
the common and going fishing were not what he'd call exercise, and 
there was no reason why Melville should not earn a little pocket 
money — but his mother said Melville would only be a boy once. 
Finally he had worked on the Sawyer farm during the haying 
season, but when haying was over, his father had said it would be 
enough if he did the chores around the house. 

Melville had finished mowing the lawn at three o'clock that after- 
noon, and Celia had watched him all the time from the hammock 
on the porch while she read a novel written by Mrs. Humphry 
Ward. Though he was not resentful, it had made him hot to see 
her sitting in the shade and looking up from her book every time 

J 74 

the lawn mower stopped. When he had finished and had put the 
mower in the barn and had washed himself under the pump, he 
went upstairs and put on a clean blue shirt and his long pair of 
khaki work trousers. When he came down, his mother was out 
on the porch, too, with her darning. 

"Where are you going, Melly?" his mother asked. 

He told her he was going down to get an orange phosphate at 
the drugstore. 

"He wants to show of! his long trousers downtown," Celia said. 
"Doesn't he look funny in long trousers?" 

When he thought of it now, Celia looked pretty funny herself 
that afternoon with rats in her hair and a large black bow. There 
were a number of replies he might have made to Celia, but his 
mother spoke before he could answer. 

"He looks very well in them," she said. "He's growing so, it's 
time he wore long trousers. Come here, Melly, and let me tighten 
your belt." 

It was one of Harry's old belts. It needed another hole to be tight 
enough, and his mother made one with her scissors. He could al- 
ways remember the simple things she did for him. 

The trolley from Nashua was just in, and Mr. Jacques, the motor- 
man, was in the drugstore drinking a root beer. Mr. Goodwin was 
out back in the prescription room but he heard Melville ask for an 
orange phosphate. 

"Is that you, Mel?" he called. "Remember to take his money, 

"Oh, go on, Robert," Mr. Jacques called, "you don't take money 
from children, do you?" 

His father stepped out of the prescription room, cool and neat in 
his white coat. 

"Melville isn't a child," he said, "he's got on long pants." 

Mr. Jacques laughed and fanned himself with his visor cap. 

"That's so," he said. "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll blow him to 
that orange phosphate." 

"No, no, Sam," Mr. Goodwin said. "It's just a family rule — but 
Mel's a pretty good boy. Give him the phosphate, Elmer." 


Then he stepped around the counter and put his hand on Mel- 
ville's shoulder. 

"Melville's a pretty good boy," Mr. Goodwin said again. "I'm 
going to make him into a doctor someday." 

"Is that so?" Mr. Jacques said. "It will take a lot of money edu- 
cating him into a doctor, won't it, Robert?" 

"Maybe I can do it," Mr. Goodwin said, "by taking Melville's 
nickels away from him at the fountain." 

Mr. Jacques finished his root beer. 

"Well," he said, "it's a hot day for the soldier boys to be march- 


"What soldier boys?" Mr. Goodwin asked. 

"The militia," Mr. Jacques said. "They're coming up along the 
river road. They're going to camp at Blair tonight on the old fair- 
grounds." What news there was usually reached Hallowell by 

Blair was only five miles away, and the Ford was in the barn, 
and no one had ever told Melville expressly not to use the Ford. He 
had never driven it far by himself, but it was an easy road to Blair. 
Besides, it would do the motor good to be used. At least this was 
what he told his mother when he returned to the house and he could 
hear the anxiety in his voice, because he was not at all sure what 
she would say. 

"Why, I don't know why you shouldn't, dear," she said. "You've 
been working so hard on the lawn." 

"Harry won't like it," Celia said. "Melville really doesn't know 
how to run an automobile." 

He did not wait to hear what his mother answered. The Ford 
started without any difficulty. He backed it out of the barn, turned 
it correctly into the yard, and went in low out to the street. He 
had driven to Blair once before in a horse and buggy, but now he 
was dealing with mechanical force. The pulsing, shaking engine felt 
immensely powerful. He squared his shoulders, pulled the little gas 
lever, and let the clutch drop back into high. It was up to him and 
no one else to get the car to Blair and back. 

It was not due to any plan that Muriel happened to be on the 


front porch of the Recces' house, and he stopped the car to wave 
to her without any idea of consequences. He thought he only wanted 
her to see him in the Ford. 

"Hey, Muriel," he called, "would you like to take a ride?" 

He waited with the engine running while Muriel walked slowly 
toward the car. 

"Oh, Melville," she said, "I'd like to, but I don't know whether 
I ought to, and I can't ask Mother because Mother's gone to Nashua. 
Are you going a long way ? " 

"Oh, no," he said, "only down to Blair" — but it seemed like a 
thousand miles to Blair. 

"Why are you going to Blair?" she asked. 

She listened carefully while he told her about the militia camping 
at the fairgrounds, but a long while later she told him that of course 
she had already made up her mind to go. 

"Do you think it's safe?" she asked. 

"Safe?" he answered. "Of course it's safe." 

"Do you think I need a coat or anything?" she asked. 

He looked at her braids and her cotton print dress. 

"No, you don't need a coat," he said, "we're only going to 

"Well," she said, ''maybe you ought to see some soldiers," and 
then she smiled. "It's silly, but I'd like to go." 

Any good leader had to develop a sense of premonition. Premoni- 
tion, after all, was only a peculiar sort of sensitiveness, not unlike 
that mysterious prescience that stopped you sometimes from run- 
ning into an object in the dark. When, as a young subaltern, he led 
patrols in France and when he was older and examined dispositions 
on a map, instinct often told him to concentrate in the center or to 
move by the left flank. When Muriel climbed up beside him to the 
worn upholstery of that Ford runabout, Melville Goodwin had his 
first encounter with premonition. There was nothing sharp or 
definite about it, but he had a reasonable certainty that if he and 
Muriel went to Blair they would go to other places, and an equal 
certainty that if he did not go to Blair his life would follow quite 
a different pattern. 


"Why are we waiting?" Muriel asked. "Why don't you make the 
thing go?" 

"All right," he said, and he pressed the little pedal by the steer- 
ing post and the car began to move down Prospect Street. 

"Melville," she asked, "are you sure you know what you're do- 

"Yes," he said, "of course I'm sure." 

No one was ever entirely sure — at best you could only be partly 
sure — and perhaps Muriel always understood this better than he 
ever did. Perhaps in all the years they were together she was never 
convinced of his infallibility. 

"My goodness," she said, "we're out of Hallowell already." 

They were only traveling at twenty miles an hour, but the Ford 
was eating up the distance. They were a mile out of Hallowell, be- 
yond the unpainted buildings of the Sawyer farm already, and over 
the bridge that spanned the Sawyer Brook. The sun was at his back 
and was dropping low, and he and Muriel were approaching the 
wooded, rolling country that lay between Hallowell and Blair. His 
mind was concentrated both on the management of the Ford, which 
had raised him to another plane, and on the curves and contours 
of the road. With his instinctive memory for terrain, even at that 
unaccustomed speed, he was storing away the landmarks, roughly 
measuring distance, noting down a curve, a white pine, a glacial 
boulder, a woods road to his right, or a stone wall in the oak thicket 
to his left. 

"Melville," Muriel asked — they both had to raise their voices so 
that they could be heard above the rattling of the car — "do you 
think I'm too old for braids?" 

He had no fixed ideas on the subject, and he could both watch the 
road unfold and tell her so. 

"I think I ought to put my hair up," Muriel said, "something like 
the way Celia has hers." 

"It might look all right," he said, "if it wasn't in a hard knot." 

"How do you mean, a hard knot?" 

"I don't know," he said, "all squeezed up tight with pins in it." 

"It's got to have pins in it if you put it up," she said. "If I had 


known you were going to ask me for a ride, I'd have put it up." 
"You look all right," he said. 
"Oh, you're just being polite, Melville," she said. 
"No," he said, "you look all right." 
A blue farm wagon drawn by two dapple grays was approaching 

him, and he kept well to the right. 
"Melville," she asked, "do you like poetry?" 
"Yes," he said, "some kinds, but not love poetry." 
"I know a poem called 'The Highwayman,' by Alfred Noyes," 

Muriel said. "It has love in it but it's about fighting. Shall I say it?" 
"Yes," Melville answered, "go ahead and say it." 
"All right," Muriel said. "I wouldn't say it to just anyone because 

some people would say that it sounded silly . . ." and she started 

it correctly, beginning with the title in the way one had been taught 

to recite poetry at Hallo well: 

The Highwayman 
by Alfred Noyes 

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, 
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, 
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple 
moor . . . 

The purple moor seemed to wrap itself around them both until 
he became Mr. Noyes's highwayman and she was Bess, the land- 
lord's black-eyed daughter, and he was after a prize that night, and 
the redcoats were after him, but she could look for him by moon- 
light and he would be around though hell should bar the way. They 
were moving toward Blair, not in the Ford but on the misty wings 
of moonlight, until he lay in his blood on the highway with a bunch 
of lace at his throat, but even then, his ghost would come and knock 
on the old inn door. When her voice stopped, Melville came to him- 
self almost with a jolt. 

"It's kind of a silly poem," she said, "but it sounds nice, doesn't 

"It's all right," he answered, "except that with all those soldiers 


after him, he would have waited until there wasn't any moonlight, 
if he'd had any sense, and if the road was white, he'd have kept off 
the road. There's no use standing around in the moonlight to let 
someone take a shot at you." 

His thinking was absolutely sound, and he was pleased that he 
could criticize the poem. 

"I don't see why you have to spoil it all," she said. "It would be 
braver to come by moonlight." 

There was no time to argue with her. While she was speaking 
they had come around a bend, and he could see the buildings of the 
fairgrounds with the roofs of Blair beyond them and a cloud of dust 
on the river road. 

"Gosh," he said, and he hardly recognized his own voice, "the 
place is full of soldiers." 

He was like the boy in the novel by Stendhal, looking at the field 
of Waterloo. He had no experience to guide him in estimating the 
number of troops. He could only see that columns of infantry and 
khaki-covered wagons were moving through the main street of the 
village and filling up the fairgrounds, and that tents were already 
being pitched in rows. 

"What are we going to do now?" he heard her ask. 

"We're going to see them," he said. "That's what we came for, 
isn't it?" 

He wished for the first time on that journey that he had not taken 
Muriel along. He wanted to see this sight by himself without having 
to answer her questions, but after a few minutes he hardly gave a 
thought to Muriel. 

Blair was scarcely a town; it was only one of those crossroad clus- 
ters of small white buildings that you so often passed in New Eng- 
land, wondering how it had come to be there in the first place and 
how anyone living there could manage to support himself. The fair- 
grounds were on level space next to the church and general store, 
but the boards of the fence which had formed the facade for its 
main entrance had nearly all disappeared, and the grandstand for 
the trotting races had been demolished. However, a few of those 
barnlike structures so euphemistically known as "exhibition halls" 

i So 

were still intact, and, that afternoon, life had returned to the fair- 
grounds and to Blair itself. Its inhabitants were lining the single 
street and clustering on the porch of the general store and post 
office, watching the volunteer militia end its march and enter camp. 

Melville stopped the Ford on the grass by the side of the road not 
far from the ruins of the fair gates. He could still remember the heat 
of the waning sun on his bare head, the rumble of the wagons, the 
sweating, weary faces and the shuffling medley of tired footsteps, but 
his military status obtruded itself on these memories, cynically, like 
an artist's reducing glass. He could see himself and Muriel, a gawk- 
ing boy and girl in country clothes, staring in mute respect at a 
ludicrous spectacle. He remembered the sun on Muriel's molasses 
braids, and he remembered that her mouth, usually firm and con- 
fident with the assurance of a girl who does the right thing and 
studies her lessons carefully, had fallen slightly open. He knew 
now, and Muriel would, too, that the New Hampshire Volunteer 
Militia was really nothing to gape at, except with charitable pity. 
As an officer in the regular service, Melville Goodwin now had his 
own opinion of the National Guard. Troops could not be even 
passably trained by evening drill in some armory and then by a 
week or two of summer camping. It was all very well to play at 
being soldiers, but basically it was a waste of time and tax money, 
and nothing exemplified his beliefs better than that militia moving 
into camp at Blair. 

It was a hot day and the troops were soft as butter, though heat 
was no excuse for sloppiness. They all were straggling; ail the pre- 
cepts in that little black field service book had been lost along the 
way, and the commissioned officers and the noncoms simply did not 
know their jobs. There had been a pathetic effort to call companies 
to attention. The regimental band, if you cared to call it a band, was 
endeavoring to play them into camp, struggling painfully with "The 
Stars and Stripes Forever." The colonel, red-faced and perspiring, 
mounted on a bony black horse that must have been hired from some 
livery stable, had taken his position with the colors to watch the 
troops file past. The collar of his blouse was unhooked. He was 
slouched in the saddle like a melting mold of jelly, and of all things, 


he was smoking a cigar with the band still on it, not bothering even 
to remove his cigar from his mouth when he took the salutes. More- 
over, he seemed satisfied with the miserable showing the men were 
making. As they attempted to come to attention and shoulder their 
Springfield rifles in some sort of alignment, he shouted rustic words 
of encouragement, which Melville could hear occasionally above 
the discords of the band. Melville could squirm now with profes- 
sional pain as he recalled them. 

"Freeze, boys, you're rubbering," the colonel shouted. "Hooray for 
Company C! Dress them up, Charley! Keep time to the music, 
fellas — one, two, three, four." 

If the colonel had seriously wished to make any sort of show with 
those sad troops, he 4 should have halted them for fifteen minutes 
before they entered Blair and he should have given orders — if any- 
body obeyed orders — to have packs adjusted and the men cleaned 
and buttoned up. As it was, they were winding slowly forward like 
the lowing herd in Gray's "Elegy," groaning and cursing while pre- 
sumably at attention, using expletives which grew louder when they 
heard their colonel's voice. 

"God damn it," he heard one of the spryer privates shout, "he's 
riding, ain't he?" 

Melville stood utterly bemused by the moving column, boyishly 
unaware, at that time, of this lack of discipline, fascinated by the 
Springfields, by the officers' service revolvers, by the felt hats and 
blue braids, by the packs and the blankets and by the heavy, rum- 
bling wagons. His heart beat hard with the excitement of it, and 
rightly so perhaps, for there was always something stirring about 
any regiment equipped for the field. He lived for a minute or two in 
a haze of make-believe, no longer a boy in his first long trousers. 
Instead, he was a young officer just graduated from West Point, 
young U. S. Grant himself, who had dropped over from Hallowell 
to take a look at the New Hampshire militia. He was so lost in the 
beauty of all he saw that he had forgotten Muriel until she tugged 
at his sleeve. 

"Oh, Mel," she said, "aren't they lovely?" 

Melville glanced tolerantly at Muriel. He had read A Plebe at 


West Point and its sequels and all the historical fiction he could find 
in the library and was working on Battles and headers of the Civil 
War. He was an authority, and it was necessary for him to be critical 
and restrain his own enthusiasm. 

"They're all right," he said, "but they aren't regulars, and some 
of them are out of step." 

"You couldn't march any better," Muriel said. 

He looked at her pityingly from the ivory tower of his experience. 

"They haven't even any pickets out," he said. 

"What are pickets?" Muriel asked. 

"What are pickets?" he repeated. "They are lookouts for the 

He spoke wearily and condescendingly, and his tone put Muriel 
in her place. 

"What are they going to do now ? " ihe asked. 

His irritation evaporated beneatn ner wide-eyed ignorance, and he 
felt kindly and protective. 

"They're going to pitch their tents for the night," he said. "I 
guess it will be all right to watch them." 

He was not wholly sure of this. Though he walked with her un- 
hesitatingly to the fairgrounds, he was afraid they might be ordered 
off at any minute until he saw that the militia was too occupied to 
notice the presence of civilians. Occasional groups of those uniformed 
citizens were slumping down, pulling off their shoes and feeling of 
their feet. Tolstoy, drawing on his memories for War and Peace, 
could never have seen anything as disorganized as that militia. Yet 
slowly, painfully, with groans and oaths, the company streets were 
taking shape. The headquarters tents were up. The wagon train was 
rumbling to a suitable location, and fires were being lighted near 
the cook tents. There were always some able individuals in any 
organization, and this regiment had its quota. Arms were being 
stacked after a fashion, and a small army city was rising. If the 
execution was clumsy, Melville did not know it then. No one alive, 
he thought, could have helped being stirred by that smell of wood 
smoke and of cooking, by the scurrying of the water and kitchen de- 
tails and the guard, and by the strings of draft horses being led to 


drink. Both he and Muriel must have forgotten about the time, until 
the bugles blew assembly and the ranks began forming for retreat — 
not that he understood the formality then. Muriel had stayed beside 
him quietly and uncomplaining as they wandered here and there, 
but now her voice was plaintive. 

"It's getting awfully late," she said. "I don't know what Mother's 
going to say." 

"Oh," he said, "in the Ford we can get back in no time." 

Nevertheless he knew they had stayed too long. It was six o'clock, 
and he could feel a faint evening chill in the air already. They hur- 
ried through the old fair gates. They were almost running when they 
reached the Hallowell road, but when they reached it, he could see 
no sign of the car, although he remembered exactly where he had 
left it. His father's Ford was gone. 

At one time or another, Melville Goodwin had been exposed to all 
the components of surprise ana disaster. Now they were like old 
acquaintances; yet his personal reactions had not changed greatly 
since that moment at Blair when he stared at the track left by the 
Ford's wheels. There would always be the same grip at his throat, 
the «ame taut dryness in his mouth, the same hideous, hollow tension 
in his stomach that he felt that day. The main remedy was always 
quick, decisive action. His reactions were slower at Blair than they 
were later, but he did not behave badly. There was, of course, a 
nauseous second of indecision, combined with sickening thoughts 
of consequences, and then Muriel's presence beside him began to 
exert the same stimulus that the presence of troops did later. 

"Melville," he heard her wail, "it's gone. Why didn't you leave 
it in a safe place? What are we going to do?" 

With her words and his own thoughts buzzing savagely through 
his head, he examined the tracks of the vanished Ford, and already 
common sense was returning to him. While Muriel was still speak- 
ing, he began tracing the tire marks through the long grass to the 
dust of the road. He only had to follow them for a few yards to 
discover that the Ford had been driven into the fairgrounds. 

"It's all right," he said to Muriel, "it's around here somewhere." 

Then he grabbed her by the hand, not to console her but because 


he was in a hurry. Whoever had taken the car, he was thinking, 
had not seriously intended to steal it, and it would not be on the 
company streets or near the officers' tents, but rather in the neigh- 
borhood of the wagons. It was the first estimate he had ever made 
of a serious situation, and it had been correct. Not more than three 
minutes could have elapsed before he saw the Ford down by the 
wagon park. It stood beside a confused heap of packs and harness, 
with its engine running, and four militia men were examining it, 
making obvious and humorous remarks. He was out of breath as he 
drew near them. One private, he remembered, was drinking from a 
whisky bottle and another was trying to pull it away. 

"That's my automobile," Melville said. 

He was ashamed that his voice quavered in his first experience 
with troops. 

"Say," one of the men said, "look at the two little sweet- 

Melville found himself blushing. He had forgotten that he was 
holding Muriel's hand, and he dropped it like a hot potato. He 
could still remember the red hair of the man who had spoken and 
the exact tilt of his mouth. The two top buttons of his shirt were 
open and he had one gold tooth. 

"That's my automobile," Melville said again. 

"Why, you little snotty-nosed bastard," the redheaded private said. 
"You're too young to own a car." 

"It's my father's automobile," he said. 

The soldier moved closer to him. 

"Fresh, aren't you?" the soldier said. "How do I know it's your 
daddy's automobile?" 

"Because I told you so," Melville said, and he was glad that his 
voice was firmer. 

"So you told me so, did you?" the redheaded soldier said. "And 
what are you going to do about it?" 

It was a sensible question, and it looked as though there was noth- 
ing he could do about it, but he did not want Muriel to know it. He 
swallowed and he felt his heart beating in his throat. 

"I'm going to drive it home," Melville said. 

,8 5 

"Now listen, bub," the redheaded soldier said, "you drag your 
little ass out of here before I slap your ears back." 

"Oh, leave him alone, Jake," someone said, "he's only a kid." 

"You heard me," the redhead said, waving an open palm at him, 
"drag ass out of here." 

Melville knew that he could not walk away. It would be better 
to have his teeth knocked out or be killed than walk away. Probably, 
on thinking it over, nothing would have happened. Someone not 
as drunk as the redhead would have moved between them, but at 
just that moment Muriel tugged his arm. 

"Here, Mel," she whispered to him, "take this." 

Muriel was holding out a bayonet to him. She must have found it 
in the heap of equipment near the Ford, and she must have drawn it 
from its scabbard herself because he saw its ugly blade in the dusk. 
He had never held a bayonet before, and subsequently it was never 
part of an officer's equipment, but at that moment it seemed com- 
pletely natural to be holding it. 

"Keep away from me," Melville said. 

"Why, you murdering little son of a bitch!" the redhead shouted. 
"You ought to go to jail." 

The others around the car were laughing, but it was not all a 

Melville backed away carefully and climbed behind the wheel of 
the Ford, put the bayonet on the seat beside him and accelerated the 
motor. He felt as though he were moving and talking in a dream 
after he had told Muriel to get in beside him. That was all there 
was to it. No one spoke. No one shouted after them as he drove the 
car toward the fairgrounds gates. The only sound that he could re- 
member was Muriel's convulsive sobbing. 

"Don't cry, Muriel," he said. "There's nothing to cry about," and 
he threw the bayonet out of the car when they reached the Hallowell 

He was never embarrassed after that when anyone in Hallowell 
said that Muriel Reece was his best girl. 

The truths in the old book of Field Service Regulations had once 
been as much a part of his fixed beliefs as paragraphs on guard duty 


and the school o£ the soldier. Action, correct or not, was preferable 
to immobility. Muriel had never read the Field Service Regulations, 
but what she had done was in keeping with their essence. She had 
estimated the situation and had taken action when she handed him 
that bayonet. Most of his life having been made up of fighting or 
considering the problems of fighting, it was his habit to review the 
actions in which he had participated, and the action at Blair fell into 
a classic pattern. It could readily be incorporated in a textbook. 
Essentially, it had been fought by Muriel Reece, who had brought 
the weight of reinforcement to bear at the critical point. 

i8 7 


"// You Can Dream and Not Ma\e Dreams 
Your Master . . ." 

Melville Goodwin's words came to a standstill — for no artistic 
reason. His attempts to describe his life and his family had been 
prolix, humorless and dull; yet when he stopped speaking, I could 
feel not only the stark outlines of Hallowell but something of its 
depths and lights and shades. At any rate, his personality, or per- 
haps his utter lack of narrative skill, made Hallowell and young 
Mel Goodwin much more real to me at the moment than anything 
at Savin Hill. He was standing on firmer ground than all the rest 
of us. 

Perhaps the others were thinking as I was — that compared to 
Melville Goodwin we were febrile and superficial, driven easily by 
light motivations and ambitions. Phil Bentley wore the rapt expres- 
sion of someone who loves music listening to the last notes of a sym- 
phony. Miss Fineholt sat motionless behind the desk gazing at the 
General in a way that made me wonder for a second whether she 
could be thinking of herself as another Muriel Reece. Colonel Flax's 
expression was slightly different. He had obviously prepared him- 
self as a good officer should for an interminable military lecture that 
had turned out to be something else, and he was plainly puzzled by 
the result. 

We were still right there with Melville Goodwin when he moved 
his arm and looked at his wrist watch. 

"Only nine-fifty-five," he said. "I thought it was later than that." 
Somehow, like Dr. Einstein, he had proved that time was variable. 
"Well, I guess it was that summer that I went to a Sunday school 
picnic. I guess I remember it because it was the last one of those 

functions I ever attended. All our crowd was getting a little old for 
Sunday school picnics. There was a grove and a lake halfway to 
Nashua. We went there in the trolley car — but maybe it isn't im- 
portant. Maybe everybody would like to get up and stretch." 

"Oh, no," Phil Bentley said, "let's hear about the picnic." 

"Well," the General said, "there always was one of those things 
every summer." 

A gentle knock on the library door cut the General's sentence 
short. It was Oscar in his fawn-colored alpaca coat. He did not be- 
long in Hallowell or on the Hallowell trolley. His presence was a 
jarring note and created a guilty sort of silence. 

"Pardon my interrupting," Oscar said, "but Mr. Frary wanted to 
know if he could speak to Mr. Skelton for a few minutes. He's up- 
stairs in his room." 

I had completely forgotten that Gilbert Frary was still with us. 

"Go ahead, Sid," the General said, "it's all right, I can get along." 

"Well, I hate not to hear this," I began, "but I imagine Mr. Frary's 
going to town." 

"Come back when you're finished," Phil Bentley said. "Now what 
about the picnic, sir?" 

"Well," the General said, "there was a lake and a pine grove on 
the trolley line about five miles outside of Nashua, called Rodney's 
Grove. It was owned by the trolley company, I guess. There were a 
few rowboats and some swings and tables and benches. . . ." 

Then as I closed the library door behind me, I heard him say, "But 
none of this has any real bearing on anything." 

When I saw Helen in the upstairs hall, she was carrying a pad of 
paper and a pencil, which indicated that she was on her way to the 
kitchen to plan meals and her intent look showed that she was deal- 
ing with some complicated problem. 

"Where are you going?" she asked. 

When I told her that Gilbert Frary had sent for me, she nodded 
toward the door of our dressing room. 

"Come in here for a minute first," she said, "and tell me what 
we're going to do for the rest of the day." 


I followed her, not with any great alacrity, because I never could 
seem to see domestic problems through Helen's eyes. 

"I woke up this morning," she said when she closed the door, "to 
realize we're running a sort of hotel. At least, I know now how 
people must feel who take in paying guests at a dude ranch or some- 
where. Everyone is so — so extraneous.'* 

"I know what you mean," I said. "The only difference is, ours 
aren't paying." 

"Well, don't be so aloof from it," Helen said. "You asked them 

"You know I had to ask them here or at least I thought I did," I 
told her. 

We were speaking fixed lines, going through a routine of dialogue 
that other husbands and other wives had spoken a million times 
before, and neither of us, if we had tried, could have avoided a single 

"I wish you weren't always so indefinite, dear," Helen said. "You 
mean Gilbert Frary made you ask them? . . . Oh, Gilbert and his 

"Well, maybe he did partly," I said, "but I don't see how I could be 
more definite." 

"You could have put your foot down," Helen said. 

"I didn't want to put my foot down," I told her. "There was noth- 
ing to put it on — that is, nothing in particular." 

"Well, I don't mind especially," Helen said, "and I know this is 
the first time you've ever had your friends here, except they're not 
strictly your friends." 

"That isn't exactly so," I told her. "Mel Goodwin's a sort of a 
friend of mine." 

"I know," Helen said. "General Goodwin's awfully sweet. He 
couldn't be sweeter." 

"What's that?" I asked her. 

"He couldn't be sweeter," Helen said again. "Gilbert is in his room 
using the telephone so I can't use it, and Mrs. Goodwin is in the liv- 
ing room crocheting a washcloth." 

"Is she really crocheting a washcloth ? " I asked. 


"She's making a whole set of them," Helen said. "She finished one 
last night after dinner, and now she's on another. How long do you 
think this is going to last?" 

"I don't exactly know," I said, "but it won't be so long." 

"I can't seem to make any plans," Helen said. "Please try to 
say something definite, Sid. Will they be here for another day, 
or for two days and two nights? How far is the General in his 

"When I left him he was just fifteen," I said. "He was taking 
Muriel to a Sunday school picnic. They were high school sweet- 

"Do you mean to say," Helen asked, "that after all this he's only 

I could think of the General unrolling himself like a film against 
a fixed time limit. 

"Don't worry," I said, "at the rate he's going, he'll be much older 
by evening. Who knows — he may be twenty-five or thirty." 

"All right," Helen said, "how old is he now?" 

"He's fifteen — I told you." 

"No, no," Helen said. "I mean how old is he really?" 

"Oh," I said, "somewhere around fifty." 

"And you mean he'll only be twenty-five or thirty by evening?" 
Helen said. "Sidney, can't we get this straight?" 

"No," I said, "I don't know how we can. It's going to take him 
time to get older." 

"Well, if he only gets to be thirty by evening," Helen said, "per- 
haps he'll only be forty tomorrow. Darling, what am I going to do 
with Mrs. Goodwin until he gets to be fifty?" 

"Listen, Helen," I said, and I really wanted to be helpful, "the 
best thing to do is to relax — and besides, just remember that every- 
one's busy." 

"Mrs. Goodwin isn't busy," Helen said. 

"Well, take her for a drive," I said, "take her to do the marketing. 
She'd be interested in that." 

"Williams is driving Gilbert back to town in the Cadillac," Helen 


Somehow most of our recent conversations ended with the prob- 
lem of transportation. 

"Well, take her in the station wagon," I answered. 

"Miss Otts will need the station wagon later to bring Camilla home 
from school," Helen said. 

"Well, all right," I said, "there's still the Packard runabout." 

"That's true," Helen said, "I'd forgotten about the Packard." 

We looked at each other for a moment and then we both began 
to laugh. 

"Darling," Helen said, "we do have a good time, don't we?" 

"Yes," I said, "always, Mrs. Winlock." 

Somehow the whole situation was eased simply because Helen had 
forgotten about the Packard. 

At intervals during the last few weeks Gilbert Frary had been sug- 
gesting that he and I should get away somewhere and have a good 
long talk, or, as he liked to call it, "an exchange of ideas." He had 
been vague, I remembered, when I had asked him what sort of ideas 
he wanted to exchange. He had said they were not ideas, essentially, 
but merely a few thoughts that he had been storing in the back of 
his mind, none of which had any immediacy. He did not mean that 
we were to hold a conference. All he wanted was to think aloud with 
me along a few lines, to get my frank reaction to a few thoughts that 
were still nebulous. He could not tell me what these thoughts were 
until he thought them aloud with me. 

I wondered again where these thoughts might lead as I made my 
way to Gilbert's room. As he liked to say himself, he was a very 
clever negotiator, and at the end of a long talk, if you were not care- 
ful, you were apt to find that you had been moved through unex- 
pected mazes, like a ball in one of those glass-covered puzzles, until 
you found yourself in some unanticipated position. It was necessary 
not only to follow the eloquent, even flow o£ Gilbert's words but to 
search for implications, without being confused by the cliches of the 
moment with which Gilbert always adorned his comments. With 
some people perhaps he was devious, but not with me, he always 
said. With me it was like talking to his own brother Cedric, except 


that my mind was more incisive than Cedric's and utterly devoid of 
ambiguity. He sometimes thought, just between us both, that his 
brother Cedric, whom he had set up personally in the producing 
business, was lacking in a species of integrity, and I always had in- 
tegrity, and there was nothing that he valued more than integrity. 
He and I could talk without make-believe because we were devoted 
to each other and devoted to the same objective. There was nothing 
he enjoyed more than sitting with me and having a good exchange 
of ideas. I was relieved by Helen's news that Gilbert wished to return 
to town in the Cadillac during the morning, since this would mean 
that the thought exchange would not be as complicated as it might 
have been otherwise. 

The jump from the mind of Melville Goodwin to the mind of 
Gilbert Frary was as long as a passage by plane across an ocean. It 
was like moving from a temperate to a tropic zone, and it was no 
help, as I was preparing for the meeting, to encounter Farouche 
bounding toward me on the green carpet of the upstairs hallway. His 
smoke-gray coat was unsnarled and magnificent, and a bright new 
bow gathered the fur together on the top of his cranium. His dark 
eyes were limpid and thoughtful, and when he saw I was not inter- 
ested in his ring, he accepted my reaction in a gentlemanly way and 
stood quietly beside me as I knocked on Gilbert's door. Inside I 
could hear Gilbert shut of! his portable radio. 

"Come in, come in," he called, and when Farouche and I entered 
he smiled at us. "Oh, excuse me, Sidney," he said, and he rose hastily 
from an easy chair. "I didn't know it was you. I thought it was 
Oscar. That makes a very pretty entrance, you and the poodle. It 
makes me want to pinch myself to be sure that I'm awake." 

"He often makes me want to pinch myself, too," I said. "Did you 
have a good night, Gilbert?" 

"A very restful night as always, in your home, Sidney," he an- 
swered, "though frankly I am not a country person and I miss the 
street noises — but I took half a grain of Luminal, not that I believe 
in sedatives, and then I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, until I was 
awakened by the sunlight on these delightful chintzes. It's an ad- 
venture, waking up in a strange and lovely room. All of this seems 


such a part of you and Helen, Sidney, that I cannot help but love it." 

Except for his coat, Gilbert was fully dressed, but he still wore his 
silk dressing gown. His pigskin fitted suitcase on its stand by the 
foot of his bed, though open, was already packed. He only had to 
remove the dressing gown and fold it, put on his pin-striped coat, 
leave a bill on the bedside table, and there would be no trace of him 
left in the guest room except for the odor of his shaving and hair 

"Why do you have to go to town?" I asked. 

"I wish I might stay longer," Gilbert said. "There is nothing I 
would like better than to sit here all day dreaming dreams as I have 
this morning. I've been lounging in this easy chair since eight o'clock, 
toying with my breakfast, mulling over the papers and turning the 
radio dial. Have we time to sit down for a moment ? I don't have to 
leave for another half hour, and we haven't had a talk for a long 
while. No, you sit in the comfortable chair." 

"No, you sit in it," I told him. "This house is full of comfortable 
chairs," and I pulled a chintz chair closer to his. "What have you 
been dreaming about, Gilbert?" 

Gilbert sighed and sat down in his armchair again and placed the 
tips of his long fingers together. 

"Frankly," he said, "I've been dreaming a little about you, Sidney, 
not actively, just letting my mind run vaguely." 

"I hope they were sweet dreams, Gilbert," I said. 

Gilbert smiled at me affectionately. 

"That dry humor of yours always pulls me together, Sidney," he 
said. "Frankly, without the least ambiguity, it makes me very happy 
to think that you and I are both here and both in a position where 
we can love people without being relentless. Come here, you smart 
doggie." He snapped his fingers playfully at Farouche. "Does it want 
to play with its ring?" 

Farouche moved toward him in a dignified, impersonal manner. 
I liked to think that Farouche was somewhat bored and that he pre- 
ferred me to Gilbert, though I could not be sure of this — but I also 
liked to think that Farouche, along with Gilbert and me, knew where 
his bread was buttered. 


"All right," I said, "what were you dreaming about, Gilbert?" 

"Nothing definite," Gilbert said, "but frankly I was dreaming 
somewhat about the program and a stray remark that George Burt- 
heimer passed the other day and about a slight reservation of 
George's, not adult, just a stray remark. George is whimsical some- 

Gilbert shook his head and smiled at his memory of the whimsey, 
but I felt a slight uneasiness. There was obviously something definite 
on Gilbert's mind which he knew I would not like and which he 
desired to present to me in a sugar-coated way. 

"Go ahead, Gilbert," I said. "What is it about the program?" 

I felt the gentle impact of something being dropped on the toe of 
my shoe. It was Farouche's rubber ring, and I gave the ring a kick 
and Farouche bounded after it, and Gilbert laughed. 

"Oh, oh," Gilbert said, "you might think it was a rat or something. 
I wish I might have a dog, but they hardly fit at the St. Regis, al- 
though I do encounter them occasionally in the elevators." 

"Go ahead," I said. "What's the matter with the program?" 

"Now, Sidney," Gilbert said, "if I have disturbed you, please for- 
give me. It's only a whimsical idea of George's. You and I know 
there's nothing the matter with the program, and I told George, 
quite caustically, to look at the rating — but you know a sponsor's 
line of thought, and the little restivenesses they sometimes have when 
they sign the checks for a million-dollar appropriation." 

I found myself dropping automatically into Gilbert's own ver- 

"And if they have, so what?" I said. 

"It's just a little matter," Gilbert said, "but I have been dreaming 
over it for several days, and this morning at nine I checked myself 
by turning on 'Alan Featherbee and the News,' because George has 
been mentioning him a little wistfully lately. There may be some- 
thing in the voice that has escaped me up to now, not that it com- 
pares with yours for an instant, Sidney, but frankly I was impressed 
by Alan." 

One of the reasons I have always hated show business is the jeal- 
ousy that it engenders; and now, when Gilbert mentioned another 


commentator named Alan Featherbee, I actually felt a sharp, 
half-hysterical twinge of anxiety. Subtly, indirectly, this unknown 
Featherbee was rising as a threat to my existence, merely because he 
had been noticed by my sponsor and because he had attracted Gil- 
bert's attention. It did no good to tell myself that morning commen- 
tators, especially nine-o'clock ones, were worth nobody's attention. I 
still knew that Gilbert would not have mentioned Featherbee with- 
out a definite purpose. I was sure of it when I noticed Gilbert's hard 
and studious look. He was mentally comparing me with this Mr. 
Featherbee, weighing us in his mind as competing pieces of property. 

"Well ..." I said, "what the hell about him?" 

Gilbert laughed in a merry, controlled way, as though we had been 
telling each other droll stories. 

"Oh, oh," he said, "Sidney, don't tell me you're acting like a prima 

"Well, what the hell about him?" I asked again. 

"Absolutely nothing about him," Gilbert answered, "and please 
believe I'm being candid. He has no future, no build-up possibilities 
at all, and no color or stature, as I explained to George very definitely 
and unambiguously. Yet he does do one thing which is conceivably 
interesting, and that was all that George was speaking about." 

"What does he do," I asked, "bird calls?" 

"Sidney," Gilbert said, "please understand me and please forgive 
me, without showing pique or employing persiflage." 

"God damn it," I said, "let's get on with the situation, Gilbert!" 

Gilbert made an eloquent soothing gesture with both hands. 

"There is but no situation," he said, "or only the merest touch of a 
situation. George is merely wondering about the high price of the 
program, the same old conventional complaint." 

"Well, the customers listen to it, don't they?" I asked. 

"Of course they listen to it," Gilbert said, and his voice had a 
wounded note, "but do they buy the product after listening? That's 
what seems to be worrying George, and he has simply advanced an 
idea, very tentatively, and humbly." 

"My God," I said, "are you and he going to start monkeying with 
the program again?" 


Gilbert moved his hands upward this time, in a comical manner, 
as though warding off an unexpected blow, and then he pulled his 
flowered dressing gown into place. 

"Sidney," he said, "I know you know me well enough to be sure 
I'll never let you down, with loyalty the keystone of our relation- 
ship. I am with you in the final decision, Sidney, but I honestly think 
we should entertain a sponsor's suggestion. I was speaking of it to 
Art Hertz yesterday, and Art thinks we should entertain it." 

He intended his remark to be deliberately disturbing: he should 
not have spoken to the script-writer about the program before dis- 
cussing it with me. I was almost sure that his speech contained a hint 
that I was not wholly indispensable, and I found myself speaking 
more carefully. 

"All right," I said, "what is it you want me to entertain?" 

"Well," Gilbert said, and his words also were more measured, "it 
falls into the commercial category. It is no reflection on your work. 
Everyone is immensely happy with your work. George himself was 
speaking of your mail only yesterday, but there is frankly a little feel- 
ing in the sponsor's office that not quite enough emphasis is being 
placed upon the commercial side of the program." 

"God damn it," I said, "we've been through all that before. If they 
had their way they'd put the whole fifteen minutes into advertising." 

"Sidney," Gilbert said, "I love it when you speak your mind, but 
after all, we live by the program, Sidney. We live by it, and so does 
the doggie here. What is your name, Doggie?" and Gilbert snapped 
his fingers. "You know that I love everything about you, Sidney — 
you and Helen and Camilla and your intemperateness. They don't 
want more commercial time, Sidney. George has merely advanced a 
little thought, and I promised that you would consider it. It is sug- 
gested that you should speak the commercials yourself, weaving them 
in with the news, as Alan Featherbee does." 

"My God," I began — "wait a minute, Gilbert!" — but Gilbert in- 
terrupted me, speaking very quickly. 

"Now, Sidney," Gilbert said, "you and I possess exactly the same 
variety of integrity. It shocked my integrity just as it does yours 
when I first faced it. In fact, I was almost rude to George; but as you 


consider the suggestion, Sidney, in an unbiased way, it is not so bad, 
basically. Please give me just a moment. I've made a few notes . . . 
oh, here they are." Gilbert picked up a piece of paper from the break- 
fast tray. "You see, Alan Featherbee does this commercial thing and 
he does it very adroitly with a real ring of conviction. Will you please, 
Sidney, not assume a nauseated look until I have finished? These 
notes are merely a little dream, not in your words but merely in 
mine. But just suppose you were to open this way. . . ." 

Gilbert cleared his throat, drew a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles 
from his waistcoat pocket even more ponderously heavy than those 
of Philip Bentley, and began to read : 

"Good evening, everybody. The news is very important and very 
critical tonight, but first, before I give it to you, let me tell you a 
little personal adventure of mine that was news to me. Sitting in my 
Connecticut home this evening, I was faced with a plate of onion 
soup. Its very aroma reminded me of the restaurant near the Rue 
de la Paix where I love to dine when I am gathering news in Paris. 
Its taste conjured up the vision of old Pierre, the chef, whom I had 
congratulated on his onion soup when I was last in Paris at the time 
of the breakup of the cabinet. Its stock had that same full-bodied, 
that same invigorating authority. . . ." 

Gilbert took of! his glasses and put them back in his pocket and 
waved the sheet of paper in an expansive fanlike motion. 

"That's my dream, Sidney," he said, "a commercial with news 
action in it. It needs hours of careful thought, but you understand it, 
don't you?" 

I could understand it and I sat for a moment without speaking. At 
least I was considering it. I was considering roughly what I had lived 
for and what everything had meant and when it was time to start 
and when it was time to stop. 

"How serious are you about that, Gilbert?" I asked. 

"Why, not serious at all," Gilbert said. "I was merely advancing 
the idea." 

"Well," I said, "why don't you get Alan Featherbee to do it?" 

"Now, Sid," Gilbert said, "don't take it that way. It was merely a 
suggestion — but there is Clause 28 in the contract." 


"What the hell is Clause 28?" I asked. 

"George considers it an escape clause,'* Gilbert said, "though 
frankly I consider this legally debatable." 

"Well," I said, "then why do you bring it up, Gilbert?" 

Savin Hill and my present situation had never seemed so ephem- 
eral. I could imagine the house and everything being carted away in 
box cars as I sat there contemplating Gilbert Frary. He was like a 
magician holding an object in his hand. It had been there for one 
instant and now it had completely vanished and you could not be 
sure whether it had ever really been there. I had felt that Gilbert 
Frary and I had been about to reach the cleavage point that we prob- 
ably would reach someday, but now magically there was no cleavage 
point and no tension between us. It was all very confusing, but then, 
Gilbert always loved confusion. 

"Sidney," he said, "I have brought up absolutely nothing." 

There had been something and now there was nothing. Gilbert 
looked hurt and reproachful, and I even had a feeling of remorse. I 
realized again that he was fond of me in a certain way. 

"Gilbert," I said, "I don't understand all this." 

"Sidney," Gilbert said, "I have to say something very humbly. I 
have been very devious with my very best friend. Forgive me, please 
forgive me, Sidney." 

It was still hard for me to tell exactly where we were, and I could 
never be as good as Gilbert at playing out a scene. 

"I don't see that there's anything to forgive," I said. 

There were tears in Gilbert's eyes and Gilbert cleared his throat, 
and I had a sickening dread that Gilbert was going to cry. 

"Sidney," he said, "I should have known before I started what 
your reaction would be. I should have known that this was a sug- 
gestion that could have never stood before integrity. Forgive me and 
let's forget it, Sidney." 

"All right," I said, "let's forget it, Gilbert." 

"The cheapness of it . . ." Gilbert said. "I feel indignant about it 
myself. When I get to the office I shall call up George and tell him 
so personally. I'm completely with you, Sidney." 

"Well, that's fine," I said. 


"Sidney," Gilbert said, "I won't be devious again." 

"That's all right," I said, "you can't help it, Gilbert." 

"I always feel better when we've had a talk," Gilbert said, "and you 
do forgive my crudeness, Sidney?" 

"Don't ever worry about being crude, Gilbert," I told him. 

"When you and I are together," Gilbert said, "I have no sense of 
time. It's actually a quarter before eleven. I must be leaving, Sidney, 
and please let me steal downstairs — without fanfare — and give my 
love and thanks to Helen, and I'll be in touch with you later in the 

Gilbert whipped off his silk dressing gown and snatched up his 
pin-striped coat. 

"No, no," he said, "I'll fold the dressing gown. Isn't it a nice piece 
of silk? I'll have one like it made up for you if you think Helen 
would appreciate it. By the way, how is everything going with the 

"They're working on him downstairs. I suppose I'd better go 
back," I said. 

"Well, don't waste too much time," Gilbert said, "although it is 
nice to keep in well with the magazines. I think we ought to go to 
the Coast next month, but we can chat about it later — and, 
Sidney — " 

"Yes?" I said. 

He held out his hand and we shook hands. 

"Don't worry about Clause 28. There's absolutely nothing in it. 
George only mentioned it playfully." 

"I'm not worried about it as long as you're not," I said. 

"And you feel happy about everything?" 

"Yes," I said, "absolutely happy." 

Gilbert snapped his suitcase shut and picked it up before I could 
reach it. 

"Oh," he said, "I nearly forgot. Here's a little something for 
Oscar," and he dropped a five-dollar bill upon the bedside table. 

I felt weary when I stood outside the house watching the Cadillac 
leave with Gilbert for the city, though our talk had been no more 
disturbing than other talks with Gilbert. I was a valuable piece of 


property and in a sense a negotiable security, and a contretemps like 
this was all a part of the climate in which I lived. 

When he was gone I remembered Melville A. Goodwin in the 
library, but returning to him seemed to involve a considerable effort, 
including the process of getting rid of Gilbert Frary mentally, now 
that he was gone physically, and to manage this I needed a few min- 
utes to myself. It was this need that made me wander into the living 
room. I had forgotten that Mrs. Goodwin might be there, and I had 
already walked past her when I heard her voice behind me. 

"Good morning, Mr. Skelton," she said. 

She was sitting on the corner of the long sofa crocheting a wash- 
cloth, just as Helen had said. She was wearing her useful traveling 
suit minus the orchids. Her soft, plump hands moved deftly and 

"Oh," I said, "good morning, Mrs. Goodwin. Fm sorry, I don't 
know why I didn't see you." 

"Were you looking for something?" she asked. 

"No," I said, "I was just walking around." 

"Perhaps you are thinking of something to write about," she said. 

"No," I said, "I was just seeing Mr. Frary off and then I was walk- 
ing around. The General is in the library." 

"How is everything going?" she asked. "I hope the General isn't 
saying things he shouldn't." 

"Oh, no," I said, "everything's going very well," and then I sat 
beside her on the sofa. "He was telling us how you handed him a 
bayonet, when the militia took his father's Ford." 

"Oh," she said, "that was a silly thing for him to tell." 

She frowned, but her needles still moved steadily. Her hair was 
blue-gray now, no longer the color of pulled molasses candy. 

"I don't see why Mel should have remembered that," she said. 
"Mel and I haven't spoken about it for years. He always had a stub- 
born streak, and I was afraid the man was going to strike him, and 
then I saw that thing lying on top of a pile of knapsacks. Our son 
Robert has that same stubborn streak. When he was fifteen he looked 
very much as Mel did." 

"How did he look?" I asked. 


"Oh, like any towheaded boy of fifteen," she said. "He's taller than 
Mel and he has his father's features, but he has my eyes. He's stub- 
born but I'm afraid he hasn't his father's character. The General has 
a strong character and he's difficult when he's restless. It's queer he 
should think of that afternoon at Blair. Of course we never told 
about the trouble when we got home. That was Mel's and my secret." 
She looked at me and smiled. "I was glad to have some sort of secret 
with him." 


Don't Say You Didn't Mean It, Mel 

It was undoubtedly a washcloth she was crocheting — white with 
a green border — and she was doing the border now with quick, 
even plunges of her needle. I could understand as I watched her why 
mythological fates always seemed to me to be spinning, tatting or em- 
broidering. Mrs. Goodwin would inevitably finish that washcloth. 
She would not thrust any half -completed work into a bag and forget 
it as Helen often did. Yet while the washcloth grew and expanded, it 
was only a methodical accompaniment, because her whole mind did 
not have to be upon it. A slight relaxation about the corners of her 
firm, small mouth showed that she enjoyed what she was thinking. 
She was like someone opening a box of old letters — in order. 

"The General was speaking of a Sunday school picnic," I said. 
"You all rode somewhere on. the trolley." 

Helen had said that she did not know what to talk about with 
Mrs. Goodwin, yet I was entertained, feeling, at the same time, a 
sort of military deference because she was a general's wife. She 
glanced up at me, but she did not forget the washcloth. 

"Are you being polite or are you interested?" she asked. 

"If you really want to know," I told her, "I started by being polite, 
but I like putting things together. It's a habit, I suppose." 

"Are you trying to put me together?" she asked. 

"Not seriously," I answered, "only out of habit." 

"You're not much like Mel, are you?" she said. 

"I suppose that's why I'm interested in him," I said. 

She nodded and I straightened myself uncomfortably, and felt like 
a younger officer paying a formal call upon the commanding officer's 


"I suppose you think the General's a type," she said. 

"Why, yes, of course I do," I answered. 

"And I suppose you think I'm a type." 

"Why, yes," I said, "the idea occurred to me." 

She smiled, and I understood her much better when she smiled. 

"I'm glad of that," she said, "because I've always tried to be. So 
few people outside the service ever try to understand the service. Of 
course Mel has to be a type, but I wish he enjoyed being one as 
much as I do." 

"Doesn't he?" I asked. 

"Not when he's restless," she said, "and of course he's restless 
now." She smoothed the washcloth on her knee and probed at a 
stitch with her needle. "The General calls you Sid. Do you mind if 
I do?" 

"Why, no," I said, "I'd like to have you." 

"If you call him Mel," she said, "I don't know why you shouldn't 
call me Muriel. How long were you with the General in Paris?" 

I was almost sure that Dottie Peale was coming next, and I was 
thinking of loyalty from the top down and from the bottom up. 
Helen had said that men always stuck together, and Mrs. Melville 
Goodwin was crocheting me like her washcloth. 

"I only saw him off and on for a day or two," I said. 

I waited for her to twist me further into the design, but the design 

"But you saw him at Saint-L6 first, didn't you?" she said. "That 
was Mel's great chance, of course, the sort of chance that everyone in 
the service dreams about. I wish I'd been there to see him." 

"He looked very well," I said. 

"Mel always appears well when he's with troops," she said. "I 
know what you mean by liking to put things together. I was in 
Washington before Normandy, sharing a home with a dear friend 
of mine, Enid Joyce, the wife of Colonel Joyce. We had quarters 
next to each other at Schofield when Mel was there in '34. Poor Bud 
Joyce had a disk in his back and he never had his chance. He was 
in G-2 in the Pentagon, wearing a brace, and Enid and I would 
spend off moments in Alexandria working over a five-hundred-piece 


picture puzzle on the bridge table. After D day, sometimes I used 
to creep downstairs at two in the morning and turn on the light and 
look for pieces/' 

She paused and smiled at me, but I was on the outside and she was 
on the inside. We sat there silently. It was a peaceful sort of silence. 

"So I see why you like to put things together," she said. "If Mel 
and I were a puzzle all cut up by a jigsaw, I suppose that Sunday 
school picnic out at Rodney's Grove would be a corner piece." 

She stopped and I was afraid that the balance of things was gone 
and that she would not get back to Hallowell. I was relieved when 
she went on. 

"It was a very hot day," she said. "I made enough sandwiches for 
Mel and myself, but I wasn't sure that Mel would eat them with me 
because Mel was always shy with girls, especially in a group . . . 
and the night before, I sat up late, reading A Pie be at West Point, 
with a candle and the shades down so that Mother couldn't see the 
light from my bedroom. Did you ever read A Plebe at West Point?" 

A Plebe at West Point belonged in a phase through which most 
boys passed, and my father must have understood this because he 
had given the book to me for my birthday when we were living in 
West Newton. 

"You see," she said, "Mel always liked to talk about the Point. It 
was another of our secrets. There was only one thing that used to 
bother Mel about going to the Point. It's queer to think of now. Can 
you imagine what it was?" 

I could not imagine what it was that had bothered him. 

"What worried us was that there might never be another war. It 
is queer to think of now, isn't it?" 

I was afraid that she might lose the thread, so I asked her what 
chance there had been to talk to Melville Goodwin about the Mili- 
tary Academy at a Sunday school picnic. 

"Of course there wasn't much chance," she said, "and the Senior 
Bible Class was pretty old for picnics. We played Bible quotation 
games with Mr. Atherton while all the others were wading in the 
pond or swinging or playing hide-and-seek, but the first time Mel 
ever kissed me was at that picnic. I was half afraid he would and 


half afraid he wouldn't, and I kept wondering what I would do if 
he did." 

There was nothing I could say about that fragile memory, which 
had traveled all the way from Hallowell. It was not for me or for 
anyone else to touch. I only remember my surprise that she should 
ever have revealed it to me, because this was the sort of personal 
experience that a man would have always kept to himself; but then, 
women faced reality in a very different way from men and their 
confessions regarding love were inherently objective. I had never told 
a living soul of the first time I had kissed a girl and never would — 
but Mrs. Goodwin's needle was moving again and I could almost 
smell the sweet scent of pine needles in the August sun of the picnic 

"Mel was always slow with girls, compared with other boys at 
school," she said. "He was awfully slow at hay rides and Halloween. 
Did you ever play that game at a Halloween party with a long 
thread and a raisin in the middle of the thread? When Mel played 
that game he would always chew up to the raisin and get it while 
the girl was still feet away. I thought those games were silly myself, 
and sometimes I wished . . . but it doesn't make much difference 
— all the things I used to wish. It takes a long while to learn that 
you can't have everything." 

"A lot of people never learn it," I said, "maybe no one does." 

"That may be true with civilians," she said, "but I don't think it's 
true with service people. You learn pretty quickly in the service that 
you can never get anything unless you give up something else." 

Anyone could see that she had given up everything, including all 
her might-have-beens, to follow General Goodwin. 

Melville had once told her, she said, that he had to wear long 
trousers to the picnic because all the other boys in the Bible Class 
would be wearing them, but Melville was in a transient stage, and 
he only owned two pairs of long trousers. One was his pair of khaki 
work pants, and if he had worn them the other boys would have 
started singing "Reuben, Reuben, I've been thinking . . ." His only 
others went with a suit of blue serge handed down from his brother 


Harry, which had been altered by Kunik's Tailor Shop in Nashua 
for one dollar and seventy-five cents out of Melville's own savings. 
The suit was too heavy for a hot August day, but if he removed the 
coat, everyone would see how his shirt, also inherited from Harry, 
kept billowing around the middle, and everyone would observe the 
tucks his mother had made to shorten the sleeves and the way the 
neckband was folded here and there to accommodate the celluloid 
collar that was too small for it. The coat, when buttoned, concealed 
these defects completely, particularly when Melville had snapped a 
ready-made bow tie under the collar. Melville's hair had been cut for 
the occasion at Bedard's Barber Shop on the square — bushy on top 
but shaved in a neat geometric arc at the neck. He did not wear a 
hat because he had no summer hat, but he looked very neat and nice, 
Muriel thought, as they climbed onto the open trolley up front 
with the rest of the Bible Class. 

When Mr. Atherton suggested that the boys who were wearing 
coats might take them off, Melville said he did not feel hot at all, 
that you only got hot when you exercised, and riding in a trolley was 
not exercise. He made this last remark to Muriel and not to Mr. 
Atherton. He was very polite and he carried her picnic basket and 
helped her on and off the car. As a matter of fact, all the boys in the 
Bible Class were constrained to be polite, and there was very little 
hair pulling or whistling up front in the trolley where Mr. Atherton 
was seated. Muriel was glad of this because she was wearing her best 
embroidered shirtwaist with some real lace sewed down the front, 
and her hair was pinned insecurely into a loose knot, which Melville 
had said he liked. If there had been hair pulling, the whole thing 
might have come to pieces. It might have been more fun without 
Mr. Atherton, in some ways, but she was glad he was around because 
there were none of those songs using real names like "Melville and 
Muriel going for a ride, and Melville said to Muriel, 'Won't you be 
my bride?'" 

Melville offered her a stick of Beeman's gum from a pack which 
he had purchased at his father's drugstore. She said she might like 
some later but not in the trolley car, and she hoped that the boys 
would not begin throwing wads of gum at the girls' heads. When 


some boy blew one of those round mouth whistles loudly in Mel- 
ville's ear, Melville did not even bother to turn around, and when 
the boys started a game of One Old Cat in the grove, Melville did 
not play because he said that he had lamed his shoulder. Of course 
he had to leave her when all the other boys left the girls, but he came 
back when Mr. Atherton suggested that they all sing "Onward, 
Christian Soldiers." Although Melville said that he was not hot at 
all with his coat on, there were beads of perspiration on his forehead, 
and undoubtedly his collar would have wilted if it had not been 
celluloid. When she found that he had forgotten to bring a hand- 
kerchief, she offered to lend him hers, and told him to use it when 
no one was looking. It was nice to have Melville sit next to her — but 
there was no chance to have a private conversation. 

It may have been that Mr. Atherton, from previous experience, was 
against private conversations among the older group. On earlier pic- 
nics when she was too young to be interested, search parties headed 
by Mr. Atherton had been obliged to run through the woods calling 
for lost couples, and once the trolley car had waited for half an hour 
overtime before the picnic was intact. At any rate Mr. Atherton 
thought of a long succession of games and songs in which everyone 
was obliged to join, and there was not a single lull until about a half 
an hour before the scheduled time for departure. Then Mr. Atherton 
had to stop in order to see that the younger children were present 
and accounted for, and at this point Melville suddenly suggested to 
her that they take a walk on the path around the pond. She told him 
that it would be very hot walking, but Melville said the path was in 
the shade and it was cool beside the water. She said there would not 
be time, because the trolley was leaving in half an hour and she was 
afraid Mr. Atherton might not like it. Melville said if that was the 
way she felt about just going down to the pond, she could stay right 
where she was and that he was going by himself. Then she said that 
she would go, too, as long as he wanted to go so much, but that it 
was awfully hot. 

The walk hardly seemed worth while, once they had started, be- 
cause neither of them had anything to say. She did tell him that she 
had read A Plebe at West Point, and he had answered that it was 


just a kid's book. After that they said nothing until they were a 
quarter of the way around the pond, when she said they really ought 
to be getting back or else people would begin calling for them. They 
stopped under a maple tree near the water's edge, and there was a 
little patch of lily pads and one white pond lily on the water a few 
feet offshore. She remembered the silvery look of the sunlight on the 
lily pads and she remembered saying that she wished he could get 
that water lily for her. Melville tried to reach it with a stick, and then 
she pulled him back because she saw he could not reach it without 
getting wet. 

"I just said I wished you'd get it for me," she said. "I didn't say 
I wanted it. I can wish without wanting, can't I?" 

"I don't see what's the use in wishing for something without want- 
ing it," he said. 

Perhaps that was the difference between girls and boys. Perhaps 
boys always wanted what they wished for more than girls. 

"Muriel," he said. 

"Yes," she said, "what is it, Melville?" 

"Oh, nothing, I guess," he said. 

Then before she knew that anything was going to happen, he bent 
down and kissed her cheek. She was startled because she had not 
thought of such a thing happening and the kiss made her jump just 
as though it were a sudden noise and not a kiss. 

"Muriel," he began, "I didn't mean to . . ." and he looked very 
confused and hot. "I'm sorry, Muriel." 

"We've really got to go back now," she said, "or else people will 
start calling . . . but don't say you didn't mean to." 

They walked back down the path without either of them saying 
another word and without either looking at the other, but there was 
nothing awkward about the silence. 

Mrs. Goodwin smoothed the washcloth on her knee, examining 
the stitches. It was as compact and complete as that small moment, 
but the sunlight on the lily pads was gone. 

"Well, that's three of them finished," she said. 

An illusion of having been present at a time and place in which 


I did not belong was so strong that I gave a start when I heard a 
footstep and saw the General crossing the living room. 

"Well, well,'* the General said, "have I interrupted something?" 

His voice was heavily playful, and he smiled at us, but at the same 
time he gave me a sharp questioning look. He was no longer in a 
celluloid collar, and his hair was no longer yellow. He had traveled 
a long way since the Bible Class. His rough edges were worn smooth 
and his uniform was not a hand-me-down, but a part of the young 
Melville Goodwin was there still. 

"We were talking about kissing, Mel," Mrs. Goodwin said. 

The General laughed, and I found myself laughing dutifully with 

"Well, well, it's about time I broke ofif and came in here," he said, 
"if you've got right down to kissing." 

"I wouldn't say we were right down to it, sir," I said, and the 
General laughed again. 

"How's everything going, dear?" Mrs. Goodwin asked. 

"Well, frankly, you'd be surprised," the General said. "It's the first 
time I've been able to get in a word edgewise in about twenty years." 

We all three laughed conventionally. 

Husbands and wives always revealed more than they thought they 
did. You could usually perceive the grooves of habit and the old 
methods of give-and-take and you could catch them picking up all 
sorts of things, just where they had left them off. 

"How far are you along with it, dear?" Mrs. Goodwin asked. 

"Well, frankly," the General said, "that magazine fellow ought to 
be in the Inspector General's office. I've only got to where I'm taking 
exams for the Point." 

"Oh dear," Mrs. Goodwin said, "can't you get on faster, Mel- 

"It's funny, they don't seem to want me to get on faster," the Gen- 
eral said. "I can dish it out if they want to take it, Muriel." 

"I hope they're not making a fool of you, Mel," Mrs. Goodwin 

"You'd be surprised, Muriel," General Goodwin said, and he 


"The General's doing very well," I said. "You don't have to be 
worried. If Phil Bentley likes someone, he's always this way. He 
wants the full strategic background." 

Melville Goodwin nodded, and his mouth and eyes took on the 
official expression of an alert officer receiving and weighing intel- 

"I don't understand writers," he said. "As I think of my career, it's 
like a doctor's or a lawyer's. It doesn't make good copy, or a news 
story, or whatever you fellows call it. There's nothing in me 
that fellow Bentley can jazz up. I'm not a character like George 

"But just the same," I said, "you people don't get around very 
often where we can see you. You regulars always stick together." 

"You're damned well right we do," the General said. "We don't 
like having people look at us as though we were witch doctors. Do 
you think I'm a witch doctor, Sid?" 

"No," I said, "but you're all of you conditioned and you're all in a 

"That's a fancy, disagreeable word," the General said. "Everyone's 
conditioned in some way or other. I do have certain skills and cer- 
tain developed capabilities, but so does that radio fellow who was 
here last night, the one who kept calling me General Goodman." 

"Oh yes," I said, "Gilbert Frary. He has capabilities." 

"If I were you, I'd watch that fellow, Sid," the General said. "He 
acts like someone in some big headquarters . . . but getting back to 
me, maybe I'm an easy mark when I get outside what you call my 
'clique/ Just the same, I wish that Muriel here wouldn't always be 
afraid I'm going to make a fool of myself with strangers." 

In the end it was only the old interplay between any wife and hus- 
band, and just then Melville Goodwin was any husband, but still, 
there were overtones of another way of life. The General was still a 
general, though off his guard. 

"Now, Mel," Mrs. Goodwin said, "sometimes you don't under- 
stand people outside the service very well. Do you remember that 
couple we met when we were in Atlanta, the man you played golf 
with who wanted to interest you in the orange grove in Florida ? " 


"I always told you," the General said, "that I hadn't the remotest 
intention of buying that orange grove. What about that man's wife 
in San Francisco who got you buying stocks when I was in the War 
College" — the General smiled at her officially — "and second-hand 
cars? It doesn't do any good to tell you to get in touch with Harry 
if you want a car — that's my brother Harry, Sid. He has a Buick 
agency in Michigan." 

"Yes, I know, Mel," Mrs. Goodwin said. "When it comes to civil- 
ians, we're both babes in the wood." 

"All right," the General said, "as long as you're a babe, too, baby," 
and then he laughed because I was there — the outside audience. 

"I never worry about you when you're with troops," Mrs. Goodwin 
said, "only when you're in Berlin or Paris or somewhere." 

"Or waiting around here?" the General said very brightly. 

"I hope you'll hurry things here as much as you can," Mrs. Good- 
win said. "Don't you think perhaps tomorrow I'd better go back to 
Washington? I won't start pulling wires." 

"All right," the General said, "maybe it would be a good idea if 
you looked over the lay of the land — but don't wrap up any package 
for me before I get there, Muriel." 

The idea of her going to Washington seemed to have lifted a 
weight from the General's mind. 

"Now go back and tell them how you got into West Point," Mrs. 
Goodwin said. "Do you remember when we went to Nashua to call 
on Mr. Francis J. Garrity and I stayed outside and talked to the girl 
who was doing the typing?" 

"Now wait a minute," the General said. "I know you can do a lot, 
Muriel, but you didn't make that congressman put me into the 

I believe they had finally forgotten I was there until I spoke. 

"I thought Mr. Orrin Curtain was the congressman who got you 
into the Point," I said. 

Both of them looked as surprised as though I had walked into 
their room without knocking. 

"What a memory you have, Sid," the General said. "Orrin Curtain 
was defeated when he ran again. Francis Garrity, a Democrat, beat 


him, and maybe I wouldn't have dared go see Garrity if Muriel 
hadn't made me." 

"Melville," Mrs. Goodwin said, "your Croix de guerre ribbon is 
twisted, and I think the palm is coming loose. Come here and I'll 
fix it." 

"That leaf is always coming loose," the General said, and he 
reached instinctively to the left side of his blouse. 

"Don't," Mrs. Goodwin said. "I can fix it, Melville." 

He walked to the sofa and bent over Mrs. Goodwin and then as 
her hands moved toward the ribbons he kissed her cheek. 

"Why, Melville," Mrs. Goodwin said, "you startled me." 

The theory so prevalent in American art forms, that it is the ma- 
triarchal little woman who runs the world by outwitting the pre- 
posterously dumb menfolk around her — who fall like sitting ducks 
before her patience, wisdom and manipulative cleverness — has al- 
ways seemed to me suspect. Admitting that most women believed 
this legend, in my limited experience they were not completely suc- 
cessful in following it. Yet I was not quite sure about Mrs. Goodwin. 
It was just possible that she might always have managed Melville 
Goodwin instead of merely thinking that she managed him. There 
were depths to her character that were not perceptible on the surface, 
and shoals and rapids beneath her placidity. 

The General, too, was deceptive. He was never as dumb as you 
thought he was going to be. When he wanted, he had a poker face. 

He straightened up and bent down his chin so that he could ex- 
amine the alignment of the ribbons on the left side of his coat. It 
would have been an awkward pose for a civilian, but not for him. 

"Thanks, Muriel," he said, "it looks fine now." 

I hoped they would say something more, but Helen came into the 
living room just then, and broke up the little scene. She looked fresh 
and beautiful, an emissary from the inscrutable civilian civilization 
of which the Goodwins had been speaking. 

"Good morning," she said. "I thought the men were all doing that 
thing in the library." 

"The men ought to be," the General said, "but men can't get on 
without women." 


"It's nice to know that," Helen said. "I was just wondering 
whether Mrs. Goodwin wouldn't like to take a drive with me and 
see the country. It's such a lovely morning." 

"Why, yes, dear," Mrs. Goodwin said, "I'd like to very much if it 
isn't any trouble." 

Helen said that it would be no trouble at all. She was going down- 
town to do some shopping and they could drive along the ridge, and 
we were going to have luncheon at half past one if it would be all 
right for everybody. Yet on the other hand, if Mrs. Goodwin would 
rather not go for a drive there was no reason, absolutely no reason 
for her to go, but Mrs. Goodwin was glad to go for a drive, glad to 
get some fresh air. It was amazing how two women could construct 
a situation out of nothing. The General and I fidgeted slightly while 
Mrs. Goodwin tried to ascertain whether or not it really would be 
convenient for Helen to take her for a drive, and while Helen en- 
deavored to discover whether Mrs. Goodwin really wanted to go for 
a drive, or whether she would be happier staying in the living room, 
because it made no difference which. Neither of them seemed able to 
estimate the situation. 

"Make up your minds, girls," the General said. 

"Why don't you two run along?" Mrs. Goodwin said. "I'll just go 
upstairs and put on a hat." 

"You don't need a hat," Helen said, "unless you'd rather." 

"Come on, Sid," the General said, "let's put the show on the road." 
He took my arm and we walked out of the living room. 

"Muriel's never happy unless she's running something," the Gen- 
eral said, "and usually it's me. I ought to be on wheels and then she 
wouldn't have to push so hard. What were you and Muriel talking 

"About you," I told him, "and about the service." 

"Did she ask you anything about Paris?" 

It was the old problem of loyalty again and perhaps men always 
did stick together. 

"She was just asking if I had seen you in Paris," I said. 

"Oh," the General said, "well. . . . Was that all she said about 


"That's all," I said. "We didn't talk about you all the time." 

"Say, Sid," the General said, "when this project is over here, I 
think maybe I'll spend a day or two in New York before I go down 
to Washington. It's been a long while since I've seen New York." 

"If I were you," I said, "everything considered, I would go right 
down to Washington." 

"I don't know whether you would or not," the General said, "but 
then you're not me, are you?" 

"No, I'm not," I answered. 

"God damn it, Sid," the General said, "we've got to be ourselves. 
Let's go back and answer questions." 

Miss Fineholt and Philip Eentley and Colonel Flax were waiting 
for us in the library and when we appeared they all stood up. It was 
natural for the colonel to do so, but I was surprised to see Miss 
Fineholt and Phil Bentley snap into it, too, exactly as though they 
were troops. 

"Please don't get up," the General said. "I'm sorry if I kept you 

He was not very sorry. He was only acknowledging a military 
courtesy, telling the troops to rest and carry on, and he immediately 
sat down in his chair by the fireplace. 

"Well, let's go," he said. "Where were we?" 

"You were just starting up to Nashua to see that congressman," 
Phil Bentley said. 

"Oh, yes," the General said, "Congressman Francis J. Garrity. 
Let's see ... I didn't want to tell my folks what I was going to do. 
Father was talking college, now that I was finishing high school. 
He had that doctor business on his mind. I told him I couldn't 
work in the store that day because I had promised to take Muriel 
to Nashua to the movies, which was technically true. It's funny 
what a big town Nashua seemed like." 

The General picked up a cigarette from a box on the table beside 
him. Colonel Flax leaped up with his lighter, but Phil Bentley was 
ahead of him. 

"Here, let me, sir," Phil Bentley said. He would never have 
thought of making such a gesture a day before. 



Your Congressman Always Knows Best 

It occurred to Melville Goodwin that most of his reminiscences 
about Hallowell started at the plainest place in that plain town, the 
square. Overshadowed by the volunteer fire-engine house on one 
side, the square was protected on another by the brick facade of the 
hat factory, which was adorned with a white bell cupola and plumes 
of steam. Melville always seemed to be leaving that square on the 
trolley, and perhaps this was eminently as it should be. Already the 
boys around high school were saying that Hallowell was a dead 
little dump without even a motion-picture theater; if you wanted to 
get ahead, you had to go to Manchester or Nashua. Hallowell gave 
you an American boy's healthy restlessness. Even if he had not gone 
to the Point, he would never have stayed in Hallowell. He could not 
have been a Dr. Byles. He had not the limits to ambition nor had 
he developed the inner contentment that allowed someone of his 
own father's latent ability to live out his life in Hallowell. 

One Thursday afternoon toward the end of the spring vacation 
of his high school senior year, Melville met Muriel at the square and 
they took the two-o'clock car to Nashua. It was another of those gray 
afternoons in late March, the beginning of a rather early spring, and 
the rain of the night before had washed away most of the snow. 
Melville was seventeen then. Although he had another inch to grow, 
and his hands were too big for his wrists and his feet too big for 
his ankles, he wasn't so badly set up for his age. He had worn a 
blue suit again, but it was his own and not a hand-me-down, and 
he had learned from his older brother George, who was now the 
prescription clerk at Olmstead's Drugstore in Nashua, that celluloid 


collars and ready-made ties were small-town. He wore high starched 
collars now, and his sister Celia had given him a blue tie for Christ- 
mas with large white dots, and his mother had given him a solid 
gold stickpin with a moonstone in it. His shoes were not small-town 
either. He had bought them at Solomon's Shoe Shop in Nashua, 
high russet shoes with pointed toes. He had brushed his hair care- 
fully, using some soap to keep it down, particularly on top, and he 
remembered wishing that his hair were not such a corn-silk yellow, 
because it gave his face an innocent, unmilitary look — but then he 
could do nothing about his hair. If his overcoat was not new — it 
was a brown overcoat of Harry's with what they called raglan 
sleeves — at least his dark green felt hat was, and he did not wear 
rubbers. He was not going in to call on Congressman Garrity wear- 
ing rubbers. 

When he saw Muriel crossing the square, he wished she had not 
wanted to go with him because it meant that he would have to pre- 
tend he was the hero of one of those West Point stories. At least he 
was familiar fictionally with the mechanics of getting into the Point. 

"Oh, Melville," Muriel said, "you forgot your rubbers, and you'll 
get your feet sopping wet. But anyway, you look slick." 

He was pleased that Muriel thought so because at that time Muriel 
had been examining illustrations of men in Everybody's Magazine 
and had begun comparing him with them. For that matter, Muriel 
looked pretty slick herself. She was at least the next prettiest girl in 
high school, and her yellow hair looked better than his yellow hair. 
She had borrowed her mother's coat with the squirrel collar and she 
was wearing one of the dresses she had learned to make from But- 
terick patterns. 

The Nashua car still had the stuffy, overheated smell that it had 
all through the winter. They sat side by side on one of the red plush 
cross seats in the middle, and Mr. Jacques, the motorman, nodded to 
them from the front platform. Mr. Mason, the conductor, rang the 
starting bell. 

"Now, Melly," Muriel said, "what are you going to tell him?" 

They had been over this several times before. 

"Don't call me Melly," Melville said — he was feeling nervous al- 


ready — "I'm going to ask him about getting into the Point, and I 
don't see why you want to go with me." 

He was pleased that already he could refer easily and casually to 
that great institution as "the Point:' 

"Don't you want me to go with you?" Muriel asked. 

"I didn't say I didn't want you to," he answered. "I said I don't 
see why you want to." 

"If I don't go with you to his office," Muriel said, "you might get 

He wished she wouldn't act so much as though he belonged to her 
right there in the trolley car, and it was not going to be any help 
having her watching him get shy. 

"Just look him in the eye," Muriel said, "and tell him that you 
want an appointment for West Point, and don't scratch at yourself. 
Remember, he's there to do what people ask him." 

Perhaps Muriel was partly right. If congressmen did not often do 
what their constituents wanted, diey always enjoyed being asked. 
Mr. Garrity was the only congressman of whom Melville Goodwin 
had ever asked patronage or favor. Frankly, he did not have a high 
opinion of congressmen, senators and politicians. They always made 
him feel that he was one of those pampered people battening on 
public funds that could more usefully be appropriated for the im- 
provement of local rivers and harbors; or else he was in the position 
of having done some grievous injustice to some deserving local boy 
from some congressman's constituency. As Clausewitz said, all parts 
of war are easy but at the same time very difficult, and politicians 
were one of the elements that helped to make difficulties. Frankly, 
in Melville Goodwin's opinion, though he did not wish to be 
quoted, politicians, particularly congressmen, were narrow-minded, 
suspicious men who were always trying to withhold necessary funds 
from the army and who even hated seeing officers drive about in 
motor cars. Perhaps he should have felt differently about Mr. Gar- 
rity. In fact, he had sometimes tried to feel so, but he was afraid 
that Mr. Garrity was like all the rest. 

Once back in the thirties, on one of those rare occasions when he 
had spent a few days in Hallowell, he had taken the trouble to go to 


Nashua, in uniform, wearing his Croix de guerre, his Distinguished 
Service Cross, his Overseas Service Ribbon and his Purple Heart, to 
call on Mr. Garrity at his home. Mr. Garrity was a very much older 
man than the one he remembered and he was wearing pince-nez 
glasses attached to his waistcoat by a broad black ribbon. Mr. Garrity 
had not remembered Melville at all — in fact Mr. Garrity at first 
had thought he was a member of the New Hampshire National 
Guard, and the recollection was still painful to Melville. He finally 
had to remind Mr. Garrity of the appointment to West Point, and 
then Mr. Garrity did remember. He was always proud of His Boys, 
he said. It was one of his greatest pleasures as well as his gravest 
responsibility to see that the right boys in his district should have the 
privilege of attending those fine institutions, West Point and Annap- 
olis. He always knew that Melville Goodwin would turn into the 
fine man that he was, and he was going to attend a little party that 
evening, given in his honor by the Lions Club, and he would like 
Captain Goodwin to come along with him. 

Melville had gone with Mr. Garrity to the Lions Club banquet 
out of a sense of loyalty, but it had been a cloying experience to 
stand up before that crowd with Mr. Garrity *s hand upon his shoul- 
der — especially since, by now, Mr. Garrity had refreshed his 

"And I have with me tonight," Mr. Garrity had said, "a dear 
young friend of mine, Captain Melville A. Goodwin, from Hal- 
lowell. Melly, stand beside me so that your friends and mine can see 
you. Look at him and at the well-earned ribbons on his chest, won 
in the crusade for democracy." At this point Mr. Garrity had re- 
ferred to some notes in the palm of his hand. "He is wearing, as we 
all here know, the Crux de gerry awarded him by those Frenchmen 
we won the war for, and our own Distinguished Service Cross, 
and the Purple Heart for the wound he suffered — where was it 
they hit you, Melly ? — up near the Moose River ? Take a step 
forward so they can see you, Melly, and don't mind if your friends 
here give you some applause. They are as proud of you as I am, 

"Now, friends, it was back in 1914 — but I remember as though it 


were yesterday — when I first laid eyes on Melly here. He came 
walking into my office, the same plain little office whose doors are 
still open to one and all, with his high school sweetheart — don't 
blush, Melly! — (she's Mrs. Goodwin now!) and he asked me simply 
and honestly for an appointment to the United States Military Acad- 
emy. My dear niece, Patricia Flynn, who is now my valued assistant 
down in Washington, was typing in the front office then. 'Uncle 
Francie,' she said, 'it's just as well he brought his sweetheart in with 
him or I would have fallen for him myself. . . .' But seriously, why 
should I have given Melly Goodwin here his opportunity to attend 
West Point? I knew he was the son of my dear old friend, Bob 
Goodwin, who, God bless him, still runs Goodwin's Drugstore in 
Hallowell, and who, fine citizen that he is, has one little failing. 
He voted and he still votes, God bless him, a straight Republican 
ticket. Why did I give Melly that appointment instead of giving it 
to the son of some more enlightened voter? I know as well as you 
that a small-minded minority say that Francie Garrity is always 
looking for where his bread is buttered, but I am ready now as then, 
to stand or fall by my record. There was nothing to be gained from 
doing a favor for young Melly Goodwin. I knew this when I looked 
into the eyes of this fine young man in March, 1914. Then why did 
I give him the appointment instead of just a few kind words? I'll 
tell you why, good friends. I believed then as I do now that the 
nation's good rises above all local patronage! I wanted my friends 
and enemies to be aware of this belief, and so, regardless of the ad- 
vice of many fine, well-meaning friends, I selected Melly Goodwin 
here instead of some other fine young boy with Democratic connec- 
tions, because he was the best boy applying. I took his hand in mine 
then as I take it now, and I said these simple words to him which I 
now repeat, 'Good luck and God bless you, Melly Goodwin, God 
bless the Stars and Stripes and our great country, which you and I 
in our own ways serve.'" 

Melville Goodwin could not recall that Mr. Garrity had said any 
of those simple words to him in his simple Nashua office, but he did 
remember people in Hallowell saying that Garrity could not be as 
bad as he was painted if he sent a Republican boy to West Point. 


It all went to prove that you could seldom put your finger on the 
motives of a congressman. 

Mr. Garrity's office was on the second floor of a business block on 
the main street. It consisted of an outer waiting room with a typist's 
desk and a single golden oak bench, and there was a small private 
room in back. The only decoration in the outer room was a cam- 
paign poster displaying an extraordinarily youthful and vigorous 
photograph of a square-jawed, determined man, beneath which was 
the simple bold device, "Garrity for Congress." There was nothing 
about the office to make anyone feel out of place or ill at ease, yet 
Melville's hands were clammy when he and Muriel entered it. He 
was offering himself for the first time to a waiting world and he was 
already alone with his own misgivings. 

As they stood in the corridor in front of the ground glass door 
marked "Francis J. Garrity, Attorney at Law," it had suddenly oc- 
curred to him that he had not thought of any way of explaining 

"Well," Muriel whispered, "aren't you going to knock?" 

"Maybe you'd better wait outside," he said. 

"What would people think," she asked, "if they saw me waiting 
there alone?" 

He wanted to ask her what people would think if they went in 
together, but he could not very well argue there with Muriel. He 
turned the knob of the door without knocking and walked in ahead 
of her, forgetting that it would have been politer to let her go first. 
At the end of the outer room, beneath a green-shaded electric light, 
a redheaded, freckle-faced girl was pounding on a typewriter. 

"Is Mr. Garrity home?" Melville asked. With a slight sensation of 
nausea he realized that he had meant to say "in" instead of "home." 

"He's not home; he's inside," the redheaded girl said. "Did you 
want to see him?" 

He nodded without speaking. 

"Well then," the girl said, "why don't you take off your hat and 
coat and stay a while?" 

"Oh," he said, "excuse me." 


"I guess you don't live in Nashua, do you?" the girl said. "What 
do you want to see Mr. Garrity for?" 

His mind was a perfect blank as he struggled for an answer. 

"I want to ask him about getting into West Point," he said. 

"Well, all right," the girl said. "Take off your coat and sit down. 
Is this your sister with you?" 

Melville felt his face turn beet red and he wriggled out of his over- 

"I'm not his sister," Muriel said. "I just rode up with him on the 
trolley to keep him company — from Hallowell. He's going to 
take me to the moving-picture show when he gets through with 

"Oh," the girl said, "they don't have pictures down there in Hal- 
lowell, do they?" 

"No," Muriel answered, "they don't have anything in Hallowell," 
and she giggled. "His name is Melville Goodwin. He reads about 
history and battles and he's very good at algebra and geometry. His 
father owns the drugstore. My name is Muriel Reece. My father is 
vice-president of the hat factory. It isn't much. There are three vice- 

Then Melville finally found his voice, although he hardly recog- 
nized it when he began speaking. 

"Say," he said, "can I see Mr. Garrity?" 

"Oh," the girl said, and she and Muriel both began to laugh, 
"another county heard from." 

Melville drew a deep breath. 

"I asked you," he said, "can I see him or can't I?" 

"Well, don't get mad," the girl said. "Mr. Garrity will have to ask 
you questions. So your name's Melville Goodwin." 

"Melville A. Goodwin," Melville answered. 

"What does the A stand for?" the redheaded girl asked. 

"If I told you what it stood for," Melville said, "what difference 
would it make?" 

"Oh my," the girl said, "another county heard from." 

"You said that before," Melville told her. 

"Well, anyway," the redheaded girl said, "you'd look kind of cute 


in a uniform, all over buttons. If I see you get one of those uniforms, 
will you give me a button?" 

"I'll see he gives you one," Muriel said. "I guess I didn't get your 

"It's Flynn," the redheaded girl said, "Patricia Flynn." 

She rose and opened a door beside her. 

"There's the cutest young couple outside, Uncle Francie," he could 
hear her saying. "They come from Hallowell, and the boy wants 
you to send him to West Point." 

Thirty-five years had passed and a curtain had fallen between him 
and the indisciplines of his boyhood, but the interview with Patricia 
Flynn and with Mr. Francis J. Garrity remained in his conscious- 
ness uneroded by time. 

Mr. Garrity wore a conservative dark gray suit and he was smok- 
ing a long thin Pittsburgh stogie. The rank cigar smoke in the small 
office almost made Melville choke, and Mr. Garrity's whole appear- 
ance was an anticlimax after the campaign poster. His hair was thin- 
ner. His jaw was not as firm and his mouth was more mobile. In- 
stead of looking like a leader of men, he looked like one of the older 
clerks in Osgood's Haberdashery. 

"Well, young man," he said, "so you come from Hallowell. It's a 
fine place, and I have many fine friends there. What did you say 
your name was?" 

His name was still Melville A. Goodwin. 

"And what does A stand for?" Mr. Garrity asked. 

"For Allen, sir," Melville answered. 

"Well, well," Mr. Garrity said, "don't tell me that your grand- 
father was my dear old friend, Mel Allen. You couldn't be the son 
of Robert Goodwin who owns Goodwin's Drugstore in Hallowell 

"Yes, sir," Melville answered. 

"Now let me see," Mr. Garrity said, "didn't your father have 
Orrin Curtain's poster in his window last election time?" 

"Yes, sir," Melville said, "my father is a friend of Mr. Curtain's." 

"Well, now," Mr.. Garrity said, "have a seat, Melville. There's 
nothing I like better than seeing a fine boy who wants to enter the 


United States Military Academy, but this is election year. What will 
people say if they hear that Francis J. Garrity has sent a Republican- 
boy to West Point?" 

Melville pushed back his chair and stood up. 

"Wait a minute," Mr. Garrity said. "Do you love your country, 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"And so do I," Mr. Garrity said. " 'Breathes there the man, with 
soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my 
native land!' . . . Stand up straight and let me look at you." 

Melville braced himself, and Mr. Garrity walked around the desk 
and stood beside him. 

"Melville," Mr. Garrity said, "you wouldn't mind being in a pic- 
ture with me in the papers, would you?" 

"No, sir," Melville said. 

"I want to figure this," Mr. Garrity said, and he pulled a pencil 
from his pocket and drew a pad of paper toward him. 

"Now let's see," he said, "the name is Melville Allen Goodwin 
and your grandfather served in the Civil War. Goodwin's a fine old 
Yankee name. It couldn't be that any of your family fought in the 
Revolutionary War?" 

"Yes, sir," Melville said, "my great-great-grandfather. His name 
was Amos Goodwin." 

Mr. Garrity wrote carefully on the pad. 

"That is a help, Melville," he said gently. "What year are you in 
high school?" 

"The last year, sir," Melville said. 

"And you wouldn't mind if I asked the principal for your marks, 
would you?" 

"No, sir," Melville said. 

"Well, now, Melville," Mr. Garrity said, "you did the right thing 
coming here to see your representative. I'm not promising, but maybe 
you'll get a letter from me next week. I'm glad to have met you, Mel- 
ville, very glad and very proud.? 

Mr. Garrity put his arm around Melville's shoulder and walked 
with him into the waiting room. 


"Say, Patsy," he said, "don't you think Melville and I would go 
well together in a photograph?" 

"Why, yes," Patricia Flynn said, "you'd look lovely, Uncle Fran- 

It was never safe to discount luck because luck was an element 
that might intrude itself suddenly into any planning. You had to 
allow for it. You had to give it what you might call operational room. 
Luck was the unexpected that appeared almost invariably in some 
phase of battle. The best thing to do was to treat it like liquor, as 
something you could either take or leave alone. 

He was pretty hot that spring, as troops would have said about a 
crap shooter, and possibly he had never been quite so hot again. 
There was only one thing that remained on his conscience. He 
should have told his family, or at least his father, all about Mr. Gar- 
rity and West Point. He simply had a feeling that his dream was 
so fantastic that speaking of it might shatter it into a thousand 

"I guess I wanted to be sure it was so," he said, when his father 
finally asked about it, but he was always sorry that he had not told 
his father. 

The letter arrived one afternoon while he was still at school, and 
it had been placed on the table in the front entry with his father's 
correspondence. No one in the house except Mr. Goodwin ever re- 
ceived much mail, because the time was past when Melville, like 
other boys, clipped coupons and wrote for catalogues. For some 
reason he had not asked if there was any letter for him on that par- 
ticular day. Probably he had concluded that it was not good luck 
to ask. 

It was six o'clock on an April evening, and they were having boiled 
corned beef for supper. Celia was dressed up because she was going 
to a euchre party at Emily Jacques's but Melville had been splitting 
wood and raking trash in the yard and he came to table in a sweater. 
His father had said that he was getting old enough to wear a coat, 
even if they were having supper in the kitchen. 

"Now, Robert," he remembered his mother had said, "Melville has 
been working hard all afternoon." 


"That's no reason," Mr. Goodwin said. "Melville, go up and put 
on a coat and brush your hair, and, Celia, get me the mail and the 

When Melville came downstairs his father, wearing the nickel- 
rimmed reading spectacles that Dr. Byles had made him order that 
year, was opening catalogue envelopes with his penknife and laying 
them in a neat pile without removing their contents. 

"More stuff comes in the mail all the time," he said. "I wish I had 
the money it takes to print and send it out. Oh, here's a letter for 
you, Melville." He was holding a long government-franked enve- 
lope. "It's from Garrity. I guess he doesn't know that Mel's too 
young to vote." 

Melville took the letter quickly and put it in his inside pocket. 

"Aren't you going to read it, dear?" his mother asked. 

"I guess it isn't anything much," he said. 

"Why, Melville acts as though it were a love letter," Celia said. 

"Weil, it isn't a love letter," Melville told her. 

"I guess it isn't," Mr. Goodwin said. "It's garden time. Be sure 
to tell him you want radish seeds, Melville." 

Melville ate slowly. He said he was not going anywhere that eve- 
ning because he had to study his geometry, and he remembered that 
his father had said that he did not see what good geometry could 
do for anyone who was going to be a doctor. Melville could feel 
the envelope crinkle in his inside pocket as he leaned over his 
plate of corned beef and cabbage, and even now when Mel- 
ville smelled boiled cabbage he could feel the excitement all over 

"Now here's a chance to order a window display on spring bit- 
ters," Mr. Goodwin said. "... That reminds me, it's time to start 
pushing tonic." 

Melville helped his mother with the dishes, and when she asked 
him if he was going to do his geometry in the parlor, he said he 
would take a lamp upstairs to his bedroom because it was quieter up 
there. He could still remember the crackling sound of the envelope 
when he opened the letter. If he shut his eyes now, he could still see 
its two terse typewritten paragraphs. 


Dear Mr. Goodwin: 

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that I am nominating you 
for my principal appointment to the United States Military Academy. 
As the Hallowell High School is not on the accredited list, you must 
take examinations at Fort Banks in Boston in the early part of February 
of next year. 

Would you please call on me at my office at ten o'clock next Saturday, 
when I wish you to meet the representative of our local newspaper. 

Very truly yours, 
Francis J. Garrity 

Naturally he had experienced other triumphs later, because his 
career, though not spectacular, had not been a complete bust either. 
For example, there had been his decorations, and of course there 
was the time at Casablanca when he was told that he would 
be a part of the Salerno show and that his two stars were com- 
ing up. Admittedly there were plenty of other good brigade and 
divisional commanders, and he hoped he had acquired enough 
stability never to allow promotion to go to his head, though on 
such an occasion you could not help but feel lightness and elation 
and a sense of gratitude to whatever had kept you alive and in the 
groove. Yet none of those later triumphs compared with his feeling 
as he read the congressman's letter. It was a kid-stuff moment, but 
then he was no better or no worse than the juvenile character in 
A Plebe at West Point, and maybe his development was still arrested 
here and there. As Kipling wrote in his poem entitled "If" — "If you 
can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors 
just the same . . ." The beauty of it was that he did not know that 
triumph was an impostor then, or that you had to pay for triumph. 
His thoughts became luminous. He was in gray, parading with the 
Corps. He was young Lieutenant Goodwin with his company, 
charging into cannon smoke. He was General Melville A. Goodwin, 
mounted on a horse not unlike Robert E. Lee's Traveller, and Old 
Glory flew above him and the bands were playing. A kid was only 
a kid once, and he still felt a little that way sometimes, when troops 
passed by him in review. 

He wanted to run downstairs and shout the news, but some 


shadowy suspicion that there might be a catch to it must have 
stopped him. Instead, he finished all his solid geometry — you had to 
be good at math and history and geography to pass the exams for 
West Point — though all the time he was reasoning an original 
problem point by point, he knew that he must tell Muriel before 
he went to sleep. 

He remembered walking softly down the creaking stairs to the 
narrow front entry, and he seemed to arrive on the Reeces' porch 
by some sort of levitation. It was lucky for him, in his condition, 
that Muriel opened the door herself. 

"How about going for a walk?" he asked. 

"Oh, I couldn't," she said, "at this hour of night." 

It could not have been more than nine-thirty, but that was an hour 
of night for Hallowell. 

"I've got to tell you something that's happened," he said, and he 
said he could not tell her unless she came outside. 

She put on her mother's coat with the squirrel collar, and neither 
of them said a word as they walked down the path to Prospect Street. 

"Mel," she said, "don't walk so fast. I can't keep up," and he told 
her he was sorry, he did not mean to walk so fast. It was dark be- 
cause there were no street lights then on Prospect Street. 

"Mel," she said, "what is it?" 

"I've got the letter," he told her. "I'm going to West Point." 

"Oh, Melly," she said, and then she linked her arm through his 
and pressed his arm against her. 

"Muriel . . ." he began. 

"Yes," she said, "what is it, Melly?" 

"Muriel," he said, "will you marry me if I get through West 

It had come over him all of a sudden when he heard that he was 
going to West Point — he had fallen in love with Muriel Reece. 

"Why, Mel," she said, "I'd like to very much." She sounded exactly 
as though he had asked her to go for a ride in the Ford or to go to 
the pictures in Nashua. It was going to be a long, long ride, but after 
all, there was no way for kids to know about anything like that. 


A West Pointer Loohj at Hallowell 

Once when he was in Baguio during his second tour o£ duty in 
the Philippines, Mel Goodwin had come across a book by an author 
named Harry Leon Wilson. He had gone up to Baguio for a week 
end to join Muriel and the two children, who were spending the 
summer in the hills away from the heat, and he must have picked 
up the book at the club or somewhere. At any rate, this Wilson was 
quite a writer. The book was called Merton of the Movies. Most of 
it was comedy, but in one part young Merton knelt down and 
prayed that he would be a great Hollywood actor and Melville had 
done almost the same thing in Hallowell after he returned home that 


"Oh, God/* he had prayed, kneeling down on the round braided 
rug that had come from his grandmother's house in Nashua, "help 
me pass my examinations and make me a good officer in the United 
States Army, for Christ's sake, Amen." 

It was not a bad prayer either. He had made the same supplica- 
tion with only a few variations many times in Cadet Chapel at West 
Point, and God had been kind to him. He had finished in the first 
quarter of his class at the Point, and some people were of the opinion 
that he was not such a bad soldier. 

Of course he should have told his plans to his father immediately, 
instead of deciding to put it off until after his high school gradua- 
tion. He never thought about the article in the Nashua newspaper, 
or even that there would be much of an article, until his father 
showed it to him. When his mother told him one afternoon in May 
that his father wanted him down at the store, he thought he was 
only needed to open packing cases. 


His father was out in front waiting on Mr. Hallowell, who wanted 
to buy a new safety razor and was trying to decide between a Gem 
and a Gillette. Two of Melville's friends from high school, who were 
eating strawberry sundaes at the counter, had abandoned their 
spoons, and Elmer had stopped polishing glasses behind the foun- 
tain while they all listened to the conversation between Mr. Good- 
win and the great man who owned the hat factory. 

"It takes such a long time to get the blade out from that thing and 
clean it," Mr. Hallowell said. "The blade keeps falling in the wash 
basin, and I never can seem to do well with it under my chin." 

Mr. Goodwin picked up the little razor expertly. He looked thin 
and neat and much more adroit than Mr. Hallowell. 

"Some people like Gillettes," he said, "and some like Gems, and 
then there's the Durham Duplex and the Autostrop, but I don't 
know much about them personally. I've always used an old straight 
razor. If you have to bring up three boys, there's nothing like a 
good strop in the bathroom." 

Mr. Hallowell smiled and so did Elmer and the two customers at 
the fountain. 

"If I had three boys, perhaps I'd use a straight razor. I never 
thought of razors as being so closely connected with parenthood," 
Mr. Hallowell said. 

"Well," Mr. Goodwin said, "I wish I could advise you, Mr. Hal- 
lowell. Why don't you take both a Gillette and a Gem and try them 
on different days?" 

"That's a very good idea," Mr. Hallowell said. "Will you wrap 
them both up for me please, Mr. Goodwin, and I'd better have a bot- 
tle of shaving lotion. I wish I didn't always keep cutting myself, even 
with a safety razor." 

"How about taking a styptic pencil along, too?" Mr. Goodwin 
asked. "I find them very handy." He was beginning to wrap the 
package, but his hand stopped in wordless interrogation while he 
waited for Mr. Hallowell's answer, and everyone else in the store 
waited with him. 

"That's a very good idea," Mr. Hallowell said. 

A deep, respectful silence followed Mr. Hallowell as he left the 


store. Even when the door closed, no one made any remark about 
him. After all, none of them would have been there if it had not 
been for the Hallowell hat factory. 

"Elmer," Mr. Goodwin said, "get out another Gem and Gillette 
and put them in the showcase. Melville, come with me to the office." 

His father kept his account books and papers in a small room be- 
hind the prescription counter. His ledgers and his invoices were sym- 
metrically arranged on his roll-top desk. One wall was decorated by 
a patent-medicine calendar, and the whole place had the clean smell 
of chemicals. This was the room in which his father talked privately 
to salesmen about discounts and payment dates, after he had finally 
decided to place an order. Mr. Goodwin closed the door and seated 
himself in his swivel chair by the desk and pointed to the salesmen's 
chair beside it. 

"Sit down, Melville," Mr. Goodwin said, "I want to have a little 
talk with you. I guess I keep forgetting that you're growing up. You 
may find, if you have a boy of your own, you'll forget he's growing 
up, too. All of a sudden before you know it, there he is, grown-up, 
and this will make you sort of sad. You'll wish you hadn't been so 
busy keeping shop and trying to make both ends meet. You'll wish 
you had got to know your boy and what he is thinking of, and about 
die time you get to wishing, it will be too late. It was like that with 
George, and now he's away in Nashua. It was like that with Harry, 
and before I even knew he was a man, he was working in that 
garage. I ought to have seen my boys more and taken more time off 
to be with them instead of just seeing them around the table at 
mealtime. Maybe I've been here at the store too much, Saturdays and 
Sundays and everything, and now it's too late. Someday you'll know, 
too, that something's too late, Melville, and it's pretty hard to take." 

His father sat there straight and handsome in his white coat, as 
though he were talking to a salesman, and he looked as though he 
had not slept well for a long while. It was the first time that Mel- 
ville had thought of him as anything more than a figure in his back- 

"When I used to correct you children," his father said, "your 
mother would tell me that you wouldn't be children for long. Time's 


something that's pretty hard to handle. I used to think when the 
store was making a little money — and now the store is doing pretty 
well — that there would be time for you and me to kind of get ac- 
quainted, before you grew up like the other boys, and that I could 
tell you about how things were, and what I used to do when I was a 
boy — but I guess I've worked too hard in the store. I couldn't do 
much for the other boys, but I wanted to save some money so that 
you could have a chance. Well ... if you put your mind on one 
thing, you have to take it off another. Time's a mighty funny thing." 

He almost looked as though he were saying words that he had 
learned by heart, and his lack of eloquence made the words more 

"I used to think," his father went on, "that you and I would tell 
each other what was on our minds someday. I've never even known 
what you wanted to do or be — but then I guess my dad never knew 
I wanted to be a druggist. Still I might have guessed why you ran 
off in the Ford to see the militia that time down in Blair. . . . You 
haven't seen today's paper, have you, Melville?" 

His father took down the Nashua paper from the top of the desk. 
His chair squeaked, but he still sat up straight as he handed it to 
Melville. There it was, on the front page, a picture of Melville stand- 
ing beside Congressman Francis J. Garrity. 

"Garrity picks Hallowell lad for West Point," he read. " 'Not a 
political choice,' says congressman. ... In a surprise move that has 
silenced many critics in this city, Francis J. Garrity announced this 
afternoon that he has ignored the expectations of many supporters 
by bestowing his principal appointment to the United States Military 
Academy upon the son of a Republican voter who worked for his 
opponent in the last election. The lucky lad is Melville A. Goodwin, 
son of Robert Goodwin, popular Hallowell druggist. Commenting 
on this selection, Mr. Garrity said today that it was made solely upon 
merit. Young Goodwin's grandfather, the late Melville Allen, well 
known in this city, saw service in the Civil War under General 
Philip Sheridan, and the young appointee's great-great-grandfather 
was a hero of the Revolution. 'I am fully aware that many friends 
may be disappointed by this action/ Congressman Garrity said, 'but 


there are times when I ignore political expediency. After all, there are 
Republicans in my district. . . .' " 

Melville looked up from the paper and saw that his father was 
watching him. 

"Garrity's pretty smart," his father said. "This will get him a lot 
of independent votes. It's funny ... I never knew you wanted to 
go to West Point." 

It would have been easier if his father had been angry. As it was, 
his coolness and reserve showed the deepness of his hurt. 

"I was going to tell you, I really was," Melville said, "but I was 
afraid there might be a catch to it." 

His father took the paper and folded it. 

"It's my fault; it isn't yours," he said. "That's all I've been trying 
to tell you, Mel. Anyway, you did it all yourself. Let's not talk about 
it now, but I'll tell you what, suppose you and I take the Ford on 
Saturday and ride down along the Merrimack and maybe you'll tell 
me all about it then . . . and now, if you want, you can help me with 
some prescriptions. I'm pretty rushed today." 

His father must have realized that the .family would not see much 
of Melville Goodwin again, but no one at the age of eighteen could 
have possibly known, and eighteen was his age when he left Hal- 
lowell for West Point. It was in June 1915 and he had twenty dol- 
lars for traveling expenses and a post-office money order for one 
hundred and sixty dollars made out to the Treasurer of the United 
States Military Academy, to pay for his uniform and equipment. 
This money order was about all he needed to ask for from his father, 
so at least he was no burden on the family. He carried nothing but 
a small traveling bag — he would not need more than he was wear- 
ing — and his family drove him in the Ford from Hallo well to the 
Junction. As the train pulled out, he watched his father and mother 
and Celia standing against the background of oak and scrub-pine 
hills, waving to him from the bare wooden platform. Only later did 
he value the memory — after he came to realize how complete that 
parting was. 

If you got through plebe year you had been malleable enough to 
be beaten to a mold. They really dished it out to you that first year 


at the Point. He did not see Hallowell again until the day before 
Christmas, 1916, when he had a short Christmas leave and he re- 
turned in his cadet's uniform with its long gray overcoat and cape all 
buttoned and fitted to a T. He wore his uniform partly out of vanity 
but also because he had grown too tall and broad for his old civilian 
suit, and the uniform was a part of him by then, anyway. He had de- 
veloped the posture to wear one correctly. He knew how to hold his 
gloves. He knew instinctively about the slant of his visored cap and 
all about buttons and buckles. A regard for personal appearance had 
already been beaten into him at the Point and he looked an integral 
part of the Corps. 

December twilight had fallen over Hallowell. Walls of snow bor- 
dered the sidewalks. The hat factory was running on a night shift 
because of French and British war contracts. Gray's Dry Goods and 
Notions Store, Richards's Meat Market, Shute's General Store and 
his father's drugstore were all open for final Christmas buying, and 
candles were burning in the windows of the Congregational Church. 
It was a picture that he had created in his mind all the way from 
West Point, except that when he saw it the size of the whole canvas 
had diminished. It was his home town but he would never fit there 
again and he would never have a home again, as he had formerly 
understood the word. 

When he entered the drugstore everyone was glad to see him, but 
his father's look was like that of all the others, welcoming but in- 
credulous. His father was smaller and older, and the boys he had 
known needed haircuts and appeared untidy and round-shouldered. 
The house, all fixed for Christmas with the tree, had not changed, 
but he had not realized how small the rooms were. All the family 
were there, George and Harry and Celia, down for Christmas — and 
they, also, regarded him with uneasy, questioning expressions. Celia 
looked very pretty, but it was hard for him to remember much about 
her. When his mother kissed him, he was deeply moved, but he had 
been away for such a long time, and he would only be there for such 
a little while, that he knew it would be hopeless to explain his life 
at the Point to her. They were all fingering his uniform and asking 
questions, but there was no sense to the questions. They were his 


family, and at the same time he was a stranger. It had to be that way, 
and you could blame it all on the Point. It had to be that way. 

The only person in Hallowell who did not seem changed was 
Muriel, and even with her there was a moment of uncertainty. When 
they stood alone in the Reeces' parlor, he felt very shy. He had for- 
gotten how beautiful she was. 

"Well," she said, "well/* and she stood staring at him. 

"You're looking fine, Muriel," he said. "You've got a new dress, 
haven't you?" 

"Yes," she said, "and so have you. You look just like the pic- 

"I ought to. You've got to look like that there," he said. 

"Well, you look all right." 

He realized that he was standing at attention, and he shifted to 
at ease. 

"You've got to look all right," he answered. 

"You've got a new haircut, haven't you?" she asked. 

"They make you get them once a week when you're a plebe and 
once every two weeks thereafter," he told her, and then she began 
to laugh. "What's so funny?" 

"Just you," she answered, "looking as though you weren't real. 
Is it against the rules for you to kiss a girl?" 


The Color's Getting Lighter Every Year 

The reticences of women, as I have said, were very different from 
those of men. Women had another doctrine of security. They, and 
not the men, were usually the ones who kissed and told. Melville 
Goodwin, for example, only said that Muriel was just the way she 
had been and he let it go at that. It was Muriel Goodwin who gave 
me the full details of this meeting, and it was she, too, who told 
most about that earlier walk in the dark, when the General had 
asked her to marry him — but perhaps those episodes had meant 
more to her than they ever had to him. 

"Melville never was a great lover," I remember her saying, while 
she and I motored to New York the next morning, "but I must have 
always thought he was going to be. I wish you could have seen him 
when he came home that Christmas. He was so handsome, so dis- 
tinguished. I didn't know then that he had just the usual polish 
that any boy gets at the Point. At first I thought I couldn't ever be 
what a boy like that would want — girls, when they're in love, are 
so much more romantic and imaginative than boys — but it made 
me want to cry when I found he was still Melville, at least he was 
with me. The Point makes leaders but it can't take men away from 

Melville Goodwin only touched briefly on West Point's relation- 
ship to love, although this aspect of life seemed to have a place in the 
curriculum, judging from the popularity of hops and of Flirtation 
Walk at the Academy. He skipped over the subject hastily when 
he described his career to Miss Fineholt and Phil Bentley, just as 
most officers did in their memoirs — including General Grant. 

"It was certainly great to see Muriel again," he said. "Nobody 


knows what love is who hasn't been through plebe year at the Point, 
and that remark isn't original with me." 

His mind was back with us again in the library. He was no longer 
Cadet Goodwin. There appeared to be a physical change in him 
as he adjusted himself rapidly from one environment to another. 
His eyes narrowed slightly, and the lines around his mouth deepened 
and everything he was telling became remote. 

"Well," he said, "I'm afraid I've sort of gone overboard about all 
this kid stuff. Maybe we'd better break off for a while." 

A second or two moved by us before anyone answered. 

"General," Phil Bentley said, "do you mind if I ask a question?" 

General Goodwin turned toward him slowly. 

"All right," he said. "That's what I'm here for." 

"Do you think civilian love is different from military love?" Phil 
Bentley asked. 

"That's a smart one, isn't it?" the General said. "But I'll tell you 
one thing, son. Those girls who marry shavetails the day after grad- 
uation don't know what they're getting into. Somebody ought to 
give them a briefing. I don't believe Mrs. Goodwin knew." 

It was "Mrs. Goodwin" and not "Muriel" now. The General's 
mind was back in the library, and he was watching Phil Bentley with 
cool disapproval. 

"You see, son," he said, "different individuals have different apti- 
tudes. I could never write like you, but then as I look you over, with- 
out meaning to be too personal, I'd say you wouldn't last six months 
at the Point." 

Phil Bentley flushed slightly and then he laughed. 

"Frankly, I wouldn't want to last three minutes." 

"All right," the General said, "then don't ask smarty-pants ques- 
tions about military love, and keep your tongue out of your cheek. 
I'm pretty tired of some of the cracks that boys like you make about 
the Point. There may be things wrong with it, but Grant, Lee, 
Pershing, Eisenhower and Patton and Bradley — they were all 
turned out by the Point." 

Colonel Flax glanced at me uneasily. It was close to lunchtime. 
It was clearly advisable to break up the meeting. 


"How about me?" I said. "Do you think I could have got through 
the Point?" 

The General examined me impersonally, appraisingly, as he had 
once or twice in Paris. 

"It's queer you asked me that, Sid," he said, "because I was just 
thinking about it. Maybe they could have kicked some sense into 
you. Yes, you might have gone through the Point." 

I felt ridiculously pleased to have him say so. I believe I was 
about to thank him, and not ironically either, when a knock on the 
door interrupted me. It was Oscar saying that lunch would be ready 
in fifteen minutes. 

"And Mr. Skelton," Oscar said, "Mrs. Peale has been trying to 
get you on the telephone all morning. She asked especially that you 
call her before one o'clock." 

I did not want to look at the General or anyone else in the room, 
certainly not Phil Bentley or Miss Fineholt — not after Phil Bent- 
ley's question about military and civilian love. 

"Go ahead, Sid," the General said, "go on and make your tele- 
phone call. There's nothing we can do here until after lunch, and 
remember me to Mrs. Peale, will you?" General Goodwin cleared 
his throat. "Mrs. Peale was over in Paris with a writers' group in 
the winter of 1945. I had to give them a lecture on the Battle of 
the Bulge." 

There was no reason for him to have said anything and of course 
he should have known better. Perhaps, I began to think, there was 
a difference between civilian and military love. 

"Could you make them understand about the Battle of the 
Bulge?" I heard Phil Bentley ask. "It must have been a pretty com- 
plicated subject." 

"General," Colonel Flax said, "there's only a quarter of an hour 
before lunch, sir." 

I was not in the least surprised to hear from Dottie Peale. After 
she had called me at the studio, I knew that I would hear from her 
again, because persistence was one of Dottie's greatest assets, and if 
she wanted something, she could never exercise the virtue of pa- 


tience. Obviously she wanted to find out what the General was doing 
and how he looked and what was happening and how much he still 
remembered about everything. It was impossible to prevent her 
from gathering this information. It was inevitable that she and the 
General would meet eventually, now that he was on her mind again. 
There was no way of explaining the forces that drew two people 
together, but I did wish she could have waited for what might have 
been a more decent interval, and I wished that I were not the cata- 
lytic agent. 

I decided to call Dottie from the privacy of the upstairs dressing 
room, and when I got there and closed the door, I found myself 
thinking again of the completeness with which General Goodwin 
and his interests had taken over the house since he had entered it. 
It was not my house any longer but a temporary headquarters in a 
theater of operations. In fact I should not have been in the least sur- 
prised, on looking out of the window, to see a headquarters com- 
pany parking jeeps and command cars on the lawn and a signal de- 
tachment taking over the stables and an antiaircraft outfit digging 
slit trenches and gun emplacements in the garden. The past and the 
present and the future of General Goodwin had completely engulfed 
the place, and Helen and I were like a bewildered French couple I 
had once seen in a commandeered chateau just behind the Seventh 
Army. All at once the General's problems outranked my own. In- 
stinctively I was snapping into it again, becoming a cog in the ma- 
chine, although I owed him nothing, and there were no longer any 
army regulations to govern my behavior. He had asked me to be 
his aide once, and now I was in exactly that position, diplomatically 
and adroitly protecting the interests of my chief. I was devoted to 
those interests, or to put it in another way, if you had once been in 
the army, perhaps you always were. 

It was five minutes to one when I called Dottie Peale at her pub- 
lishing company office. She must have delayed one of her inevitable 
luncheon engagements to wait for the call. Dottie liked to transact 
the more critical angles of her business at lunch, and she must have 
had to rearrange her whole day's schedule, since she customarily left 
for lunch at half past twelve. She had undoubtedly told them at the 

Dottie was always very quick, but it was disconcerting that any- 
one else should have thought that I sounded that way. 

"Listen, Dot," I said, "what do you care about Mel Goodwin? 
Why don't you run along to that luncheon? You know this isn't a 
good time to see him, don't you?" 

"Darling," Dottie asked, "how do you know whether I care?" 

"I've got a pretty good idea," I said. 

"Well, darling," Dottie said, "I've got to see you. If I can't see 
Mel, I've got to see you, and there's something I want to see you 
about besides Mel." 

It was impressive that Dottie could shift so rapidly from one 
thing to another, but I knew that she would find out everything by 
hook or crook, and it was better to tell her personally than over the 

"Well, all right," I said. 

"We never seem to see each other any more, do we, darling?" 
Dottie said. "How would it be — if you won't let me come out 
to tea and of course I wouldn't dream of doing that if Mrs. Good- 
win's there — how would it be if you met me at the office and we 
had lunch quietly tomorrow, just you and I? We haven't seen each 
other for a long while." 

They would be working on the profile, but after all, Colonel Flax 
was there. 

"All right," I said, "I'd like to have lunch, Dot." 

"You don't think you could bring Mel, too, do you?" 

She never could drop anything once she had started. 

"No, Dot," I said, "no, no," and she laughed as though I had said 
something very funny. 

"Darling, I do love you, you know," she said. "Come at half 
past twelve, and please come promptly. It will be heavenly to see 

Then before I told her that it would be heavenly to see her, too, 
I thought of something else. 

"What was this other thing you wanted to see me about?" I asked. 

"Well, darling, I don't suppose it's any of my business. It's just a 
little something that worries me about you and Gilbert Frary." 


My own voice had changed. I was no longer General Goodwin's 

"What about Frary and me?" I asked. 

"It isn't anything. It's just something that worries me a little bit, 
darling. You're so obtuse about some things and so trusting, dear, 
but I can't tell you over the telephone." 

I tried hard to believe that she probably had nothing to say about 
Gilbert Frary and that it was only her way of making sure that I 
would come for lunch — and yet I remembered certain aspects of 
my last conversation with Gilbert. Occasionally I was not as obtuse 
as Dottie thought I was. 

Helen and I never took cocktails before luncheon except on non- 
working days. In spite of my having spent years in a rigorous news- 
paper environment, I had never learned to handle liquor in the day- 
time, and cocktails invariably made me sleepy in the afternoon. 
Nevertheless I was very glad that day to see standing in front of 
the living room fireplace one of Helen's latest and more dubious 
purchases — our new bar table, with wheels instead of legs. Appar- 
ently Miss Fineholt and Colonel Flax and Phil Bentley and the 
General had enjoyed the sight of it, too, because they had all gath- 
ered around it, and their voices had the merry note of children's 
after school. General Goodwin himself was mixing Martinis, and 
Phil Bentley was trying to help him. 

"No, no, son," the General was saying, "put that jigger away. 
I like to play this sort of music by ear. That's the way a good bar- 
keep does it. He listens for the glug in the bottle and he judges 
strength by color. Do you remember Corporal Jones at the officers' 
club at Leavenworth, Muriel, and the night Jonesy taught old Bish 
and me how to mix them at that dance we threw on Effie's birth- 
day? Why, Bish and I ended by chucking the corporal out and run- 
ning the bar ourselves, and I've never gone wrong on a Martini 
since. Move to one side, son, and give me room." 

The General waved the bottles expertly but not like an ordinary 
barkeeper. Instead he mixed the Martinis in a military way, moving 
by the numbers. 

2 43 

"That's the way," he said, "glug, glug, one, two, three. Now front 
and center with the vermouth. There's nothing as formal as a good 

"The General is very fussy about his cocktails," Mrs. Goodwin 
said to Miss Fineholt. "He always goes by the color, and the color's 
getting lighter every year." 

Mrs. Goodwin shook her head as though she were watching a 
small boy's antics, and Miss Fineholt laughed. 

"Phil," Miss Fineholt said, "did you hear what Mrs. Goodwin 
said? The Martinis are getting lighter every year. When the pho- 
tographers come, we might have a candid shot of the General stir- 
ring. It would make a lovely caption — 'The color's getting lighter 
every year.' " 

Colonel Flax laughed heartily, and the General joined in the 

"Flax," he said, "there doesn't seem to be any lemon peel. Run 
out, will you, and see if you can get somebody to cut off the out- 
side skin of a lemon." 

Helen indicated with raised eyebrows that she wanted a word with 
me alone. 

"He suggested the drinks," Helen said softly. "I wasn't planning 
for them — and we were having a souffle for lunch!" 

"Well, that's fine," I said heartily, "I'm glad he asked for them." 

"Did you hear him send out for lemon peel?" Helen said. "It's just 
as though you and I didn't live here any more." 

She smiled at me in a Mona Lisa way, and we stood there like mal- 
adjusted guests, somewhat apart from the group around the bar on 

"It means that he feels at home, Helen," I said. "He's trained to 
take control. You want him to feel at home, don't you?" 

"It's funny," Helen said, "I keep thinking we're in some sort of 
war. Do all generals act like General Goodwin?" 

"Some do more than others," I said. "They can't help it." 

"I wish you'd wait on me sometime," Helen said. "You run after 
him as though you were Oscar." 

"You don't understand, Helen," I said. "It's a sort of reflex. You 


can't help running around when you see a general. Look at Flax." 

"Well, how far is the General in his life now?" 

"I wish you wouldn't keep asking, Helen," I said. "He's moving 
right along. He's somewhere in West Point." 

"Hasn't he even got out of West Point?" 

"Maybe he has never really got out of it," I told her. "Lots of those 
regulars never do, any more than All-Americans ever get of! the 
football team." 

"Darling," Helen said, "it's awfully nice when we see things the 
same way, and I'm glad you got out of the army while there was still 

"He said I might have got through the Point," I told her. 

"And then I'd have watched you, like Mrs. Goodwin/' Helen said. 
"Look at the way she's watching him."' 

"She's proud of him," I said. "Maybe it's nice to have someone to 
be proud of." 

"Well, I'm glad I don't have to be as officially proud of you in 
public," Helen said. "Sid, we really ought to have another baby." 

"Not right now, Helen," I said, "not right at this very moment." 

The General was about to tell a story. I was sure of this from the 
intent expression that Mrs. Goodwin and Colonel Flax both wore. 
If he were to tell a story, it had to be good and they had to help 
make it good. 

"Speaking of liquor," the General said, "do you remember Sven- 
son, Muriel?" 

"Svenson, dear?" Mrs. Goodwin said. "Let me see, was he an 
officer or an enlisted man?" 

"Svenson . . ." The General spoke more loudly, welding us all 
into an audience. "You remember Svenson at Schofield, the one who 
was my orderly, Muriel, who used to play catch with Bobby out in 
front of the house. Don't you remember the day we found that 
prisoner who should have been mowing the lawn knocking out flies 
to Svenson and Bobby?" 

"Oh yes, Svenson," Mrs. Goodwin said, "the one you were always 
going to give a court to and never did. Melville is always indulging 
his orderlies." 


"Say, Sid," the General called, "didn't I ever tell you about Sven- 
son? I have a lot of Svenson stories. There's nothing like those old 
goldbrickers who have served five or six hitches. They're sagas in 

"No, sir, I don't think you ever told me about him," I answered, 
and I found myself moving nearer the cocktail table, smardy and 
almost without my own volition. 

"I thought maybe I told you some Svenson stories in Paris at the 
Ritz." The General checked himself and cleared his throat and 
laughed at his memory of Svenson while we all waited to hear the 
anecdote. We had to wait. General Goodwin was in control of the 

"Well, there was still Prohibition back at Schoneld," the General 
said, "at least in the first year of my tour there, but just the same, 
they used to turn out a fine native beverage in Honolulu. If it was 
aged, it could be as good as bourbon. The native name for it was 
'Okulehao.' You remember that Oke, don't you, Colonel?" 

"Yes, sir," the colonel said, and both he and the General smiled. 

"Flax has been there," the General said. "Five dollars for a one* 
gallon jug — but you didn't want to get fooled on your Oke. Do you 
remember when General Hanson asked where I got my Oke that 
time we had them to dinner, Muriel?" 

"Oh yes," Mrs. Goodwin said. "Tom was so sweet when you got 
to know him, but of course we didn't have the rank to know him 
very well at Schoneld." 

"Do you remember what I told him about that Oke?" General 
Goodwin asked. "I said, 'Sir, if you want my brand, you'll have to 
take over Svenson,' and old Hanson said, 'If I have to do that, Mel, 
I'd rather choke on my old brand. You keep Svenson and your Oke.' " 

The General grinned at that ancient quip of General Hanson's. 
Heaven only knew who General Hanson was, but we all laughed, 
knowingly, as though we, too, had done our duty tour at Schoneld. 

"The main thing in dealing with enlisted men is to know how far 
to let them go and just when to pin their ears back. That's all there 
is to it, isn't it, Colonel?" the General asked. 

"That's about it, sir," the colonel said. "It isn't all regulations, it's 


the human touch. Now when I was a kid I used to have a striker 
named Judkins when I was serving with the Tenth Cavalry at 
Bliss . . ;" 

Colonel Flax stopped abruptly because it was clear that the Gen- 
eral did not want to hear about Judkins at Fort Bliss. He wished to 
continue the subject of Svenson at Schofield Barracks. 

"You know the way an old soldier is, Flax," the General said. 
"Keep on his right side and he'll do anything for you. Old soldiers 
can get you anything. When they like you they show it in little 
ways. Svenson didn't have to get me that Oke. He just said one day 
standing at attention — he always stood at attention when he was 
going to get off something good — 'Sir/ he said, we ought to have 
better Oke at your quarters. I don't think that stuff you have is good 
for Mrs. Goodwin.' " 

"Oh, Mel," Mrs. Goodwin said, "you never told me that Svenson 
said that. I never did like Oke." 

"Now don't stop me — let me finish, Muriel," the General said. 
"That's just what Svenson did say, and after that when we were 
going to have a Saturday night poker game I used to tell him that 
things were sort of dry, and I would pass him five dollars and he'd 
come back with the Oke. I suppose he got it around Nuuanu and 
the district. I never asked him, but he had a very special source. We 
got to calling it 'Svenson's Oke' on Saturday nights. We used to 
have pretty high-class poker games at Schofield, didn't we, Muriel?" 

"I wish we could play some poker now," Mrs. Goodwin said, "only 
it would be like taking money from children, wouldn't it, Mel?" 

But the General was still thinking about his orderly and the Oke. 

"As time went on," the General said, "I began to get the idea that 
I was handing out those five-dollar bills to Svenson at shorter inter- 
vals and that Oke was becoming more and more expendable around 
my quarters. Finally, one day Svenson came in with a gallon 
and put it on the upper shelf of my clothes closet, and the very next 
morning when he brought my riding boots and opened the closet 
door I happened to look up and discover that one third of that gallon 
was gone. It was time to do something. It was time to put Svenson 
on the carpet. 


" 'Just a minute, Svenson/ I said, 'I know that this is a hot tropical 
climate, but look at that gallon of Oke.* 

"Svenson came right to attention and looked at it, just one squint 
and then eyes front. 

" 'It certainly is a hot climate/ I said, 'to have one third of a gallon 
of Oke evaporate in twenty-four hours with the cork in it, don't you 
think so, Svenson?* 

" 'Yes, sir/ Svenson said, 'but I can account for it, sir.' 

" 'I thought you could/ I said. 'How do you account for it?* 

" 'Well, sir/ Svenson said, 'it's a liquid, sir, and liquids flow down- 
hill to find their own level, and I was standing under that shelf yes- 
terday afternoon. It kind of started leveling off before I thought 
much about it, sir.* " 

The General looked at us mirthlessly, and Colonel Flax and I both 
gave way to merriment. It was all part of an act that we had 
been through with other generals. 

"What did you say to Svenson then, sir?" the colonel asked. "It 
certainly was a logical excuse." 

"I just told him not to get below it again," the General said. "I just 
told him in the future if he wanted to look at the Oke to get a step- 
ladder and stand above it. The Oke lasted longer after that, I wonder 
what ever happened to old Svenson." 

Oscar had opened the door to the dining room. The General put 
down his cocktail glass and smiled at Helen. 

"I guess you'd better lead the old man in to lunch, my dear," he 
said, "and see that he doesn't stagger." Helen took his arm, and he 
patted her hand. "Let's stay like this and let the others go in first," 
the General said. "It's been quite a while since a pretty girl took me 
in to lunch." 

No one sat down in the living room when we returned there after 
lunch. I saw Phil Bentley look at his wrist watch and the General 
saw him, too. 

"I'm ready to go back there if you are," the General said. "We may 
as well put the show back on the road." 

"Sidney/* Helen said, "do you have to be in there all afternoon? 


Camilla was saying this morning that she hardly saw you yesterday. 
Can't you take a walk with her later on or something?" 

There was no reason why I should sit in at all the conferences now 
that everything was moving reasonably well. 

"All right," I said, "if the General will let me off." 

It was the conditioning. There was no reason why I should ask his 
permission to see Camilla. Then before Helen could answer, Melville 
Goodwin joined us and slapped his hand on my shoulder. 

"Let's step outside for two minutes, Sid," he said, "and get a breath 
of air before we start." 

We were both embarrassed when Helen asked the same question 
again about Camilla. There was no reason at all for me to be there, 
he said. He realized that he was monopolizing me too much. He 
realized that he had just moved in here and Helen mustn't ask any 
such fool questions again or he would move right out. When all this 
was over, he and Muriel and Helen and I would have to get to know 
each other. We would have to have a long visit together as soon as 
things were arranged in Washington. He had said just the right 
thing and Helen said the right thing back, but I knew why he 
wanted to see me for two minutes. 

"Say, Sid," he said, when we stood outside in the drive, "did you 

He had passed the stage of bringing her name casually into a con- 
versation, and perhaps it was better to be direct about it. 

"She wanted to know how you were," I told him. "As a matter of 
fact I'm having lunch with her tomorrow." 

"God damn," the General said. "She understands how I'm fixed 
here, doesn't she ? Tell her I want to see her as soon as I get to New 

"All right," I said, "I'll tell her." 

"This is the damnedest thing I've ever been through," the General 
said, "having the Secretary ask me to sit around here and talk. 
Well, let's go in and keep on talking." 


"Nor Certitude, nor Pea<ce, nor Help for Fain" 

It had occurred to me several times while the General was retail- 
ing his reminiscences that the simplicity of his childhood and the 
uncomplicated quality of his background must have been of great 
value to him in all his subsequent adjustments. He could not have 
been unduly or neurotically enmeshed in the lives of his parents, 
whose lives as he described them had been unspectacular and happy. 
If there had been any clashes or frustrations, they had escaped his 
power of observation. In fact the Goodwins without ever knowing 
it must have been ideal parents for a soldier. Except for a few pre- 
cepts and simple rules, they had never interfered with Melville's de- 
velopment. As far as I could see, they had never loved him too much 
or worried over him too much. The whole social pattern of Hallo- 
well, too, made it a suitable cradle for a soldier and a hero. There had 
been no violent distractions, there had been an even distribution of 
everything, and leadership demanded an unconfused approach and 
a fixity of purpose. Melville Goodwin's had been a normal life with 
few intense joys and sorrows and few areas of fear or regret. If it 
could have been described in a graphic form, you would have seen 
only a gradually ascending curve. 

If any boy wanted to go to the Point, the General said, it was a 
pretty good thing for him to start as a pretty simple kid with just a 
few essential loyalties. It was a good thing for this hypothetical young 
lad to have been used to eating plain food, to sleeping in a cold room, 
to manual labor, and above all, to telling the truth. It was also de- 
sirable for him not to have a swelled head or too many preconceived 
ideas that would only have to be knocked out of him. Rich boys had 


a harder time than poor boys at the Point. You threw away your past 
the minute you started walking up the hill from the railroad station, 
and everyone was like everybody else once the crov/d was all checked 
in. It would not be such a bad idea to have an arch at the entrance 
to the Point on which would be written some statement to the effect 
that you brought nothing inside there with you except yourself. 
Pocket money, family and chauffeurs did not matter at the Point. 
You didn't give a damn what any other plebe had been, at least not 
for quite a while, when you met him at the Point. 

He was Mr. Dumjohn or Mr. Ducrot just like you and he would 
have his past kicked out of him just as yours was going to be. You all 
went through the same necessary hell together, right by the numbers. 
It was dished out by experts and you took it. It was up to you how 
well you took it, but all of you had to be pretty much alike when you 
came out the other end, more alike, perhaps, than you ever believed. 
This was what the Point was for. You learned to love and respect it, 
but perhaps respect was greater than love, at least it was for him. 

One's experience at West Point was something that its graduates 
seldom discussed at length later, because discussion was needless. Per- 
sonally Mel Goodwin had never put his thoughts about West Point 
into any order until once, some years after graduation, when he had 
accompanied his commanding officer there, a Colonel Savery, who 
had written three articles on the First Battle of the Marne for the 
Infantry Journal and who had also collected a nice set of lantern 
slides on the subject. The colonel had been invited to give a lecture 
on the battle to the cadets, and he had brought Lieutenant Goodwin 
with him to handle the projector. They had arrived early one spring 
afternoon and to kill time before the lecture Lieutenant Goodwin 
had walked about by himself for nearly an hour. He had not seen 
the place since he had left it after his graduation, and he had never 
been so deeply impressed by the Gothic mass of the buildings or by 
the unforgettable vistas of the Hudson. He could have moved blind- 
fold on the double from place to place, but never before had he seen 
it all of one piece. He had never before been so conscious of the in- 
stitution's permanence or of the memories enshrined within it. He 
had never realized the enormousness of what the Point had done to 

2 5 t 

him and for him, until he stood by the Battle Monument that after- 
noon, breathing the fresh scent of growing things and listening to 
the bells and calls. The Point was oblivious to his existence now. Yet 
he was still a unit of the long gray line that marched endlessly back 
to the dawn of its history, and by God it was something to be a part 
of the Corps. 

The Point had made him earn all that it had given him, but while 
he stood there by the Battle Monument doing nothing, he made a 
rough list of what he had been given. For one thing there was the 
resilience and co-ordination of his body. Even as he stood at ease his 
posture was correct. He had learned to ride and fence and box and 
swim. He had become passably proficient in golf and tennis. He had 
learned personal order and cleanliness and how to look anyone in 
the eye. He had learned truthfulness and respect. He had learned the 
whole school of soldiering and a good deal more besides, not that 
schooling ever stopped in the army. He was well grounded in mathe- 
matics. He had a good working knowledge of general history and 
geography and of law and a reading knowledge of French and Span- 
ish, although he had always been poor at languages. Also he could 
express himself satisfactorily in expository English. He could go 
further with the list, but all these accomplishments could be sum- 
marized in one way. He had learned that if he were obliged to do so, 
he could turn his mind and hand to almost anything. 

You could not possibly, the General said, explain the place satis- 
factorily to an outsider, any more than you could explain what went 
on inside yourself. West Point's primary function was to turn out 
leaders who could win wars for their country. It was not intended to 
turn out philosophers or artists. West Point was neither a boys' school 
nor a university. It was a professional institution for profession- 
als. Its product was a soldier who could fight, who could submerge 
his individuality in prompt implicit obedience and still be an indi- 
vidual. If you wanted him to be frank — off the record — West Point 
was a hell of an experience. If he saw a cadet now, he could feel both 
sorry and glad for him and also proud of him. If officers seldom 
talked with each other at great length about the Point, certainly he 
was not going to talk about the Point at length to amateurs. Of 


course if he wanted, he could tell a lot of stories, especially about 
plebe year. No one could forget "beast barracks" or "bracing" or the 
formal jokes that plebes must learn by heart. They were an integral 
and useful part of the whole system. No one could forget his first 
sight of a perfect upperclassman. There would never be such neat- 
ness and polish again. No one could forget, either, the exhaustion 
and discouragement of the first weeks. Well, he had come through it 
all, and you could look upon him as an average product. 

Certain harassing memories beset him as he stood by the Battle 
Monument. One was his fear that he would be busted out. He could 
still hear the voice of the cadet adjutant in mess hall, reading off the 
names of classmates who would leave the Corps. Often he would 
dream that his name was on the list. That fear of separation was al- 
ways his greatest drive and it impelled him toward elaborate care 
and conservatism. He had never been as relaxed as some of his other 
classmates, and there had not been much time for ordinary friend- 
ship on account of that fear. Yet if you were to ask any of his contem- 
poraries, he believed that they would tell you that Mel Goodwin 
had not been such a bad Joe. He could afford to feel a little sorry 
now for Cadet Goodwin at the Point, worrying about his haircut, 
about his shoeshine and the crease of his trousers. Outwardly he had 
been adjusted, but he sometimes wondered whether anyone was 
completely inwardly adjusted to the Point. 

Another factor of course was the imminence of war. At his time 
at the Point — he was in the class of '19 that graduated a year earlier 
— you always knew that war was coming and this gave everything a 
grimness and an urgency that was not there in peace years. There 
was certainly not the gaiety and lightheartedness, in his time, to 
which other graduates alluded, yet the ordinary routines remained. 
He could see Cadet Goodwin as Mr. Ducrot wiping off his smile and 
stepping on it and announcing in the mess hall the number of days 
till June graduation. He could see Cadet Goodwin braced on the 
edge of his chair, and running upstairs two steps at a time. He could 
see Cadet Goodwin in recitations and Goodwin on parade. He could 
still see Cadet Goodwin as a stag at one of the hops. 

He had never been a "spoonoid" but like any cadet he had been 

2 53 

obliged to learn his way around the dance floor at West Point. 
M. Viset, a French dancing instructor, was there especially to teach 
clumsy, gangling boys, and he had learned both to lead and follow, 
dancing with other cadets. Though his ear for music was always 
poor, he had been able to perform adequately in the waltz, two-step 
and fox trot — not sensationally but adequately — and the girls were 
always kind in those war days. Though he had never been around 
country clubs and had never been to the theater, still the veneer of 
the Point was on him and he had learned the rudiments of party 
manners by his last year there — but those girls at the hops meant 
very little to him because Muriel Reece was his one and only, his 
OAO, as cadets put it. 

What with the study hour and taps, there was not much time for 
abstract thought or active discontent at the Point, and the pressure of 
time and the necessity for making the best use of it was something 
that was hard to lose. If he had done any reading in his spare mo- 
ments, it had been in military memoirs and the history of battle. He 
had been exposed like everyone else there to the rudiments of poetry, 
including selections from the Oxford Boo\ of English Verse, but the 
poetry he remembered best was the Scripture reading in Cadet 
Chapel. He only learned the value of poetry later when time was 
heavier on his hands. 

In the South of France when he was recovering from the bayonet 
wound he had received in the Argonne, he had stayed in a Riviera 
hotel taken over by the army for convalescent officers and he had 
shared a bedroom there with a reserve officer, a Captain H. T. Wil- 
bur, who was a graduate of Princeton University. This captain's 
mind, though it was a good one, had seemed amazingly undisci- 
plined, and Melville had been almost shocked by the tales he heard 
of lax student life at Princeton — of late hours, of clubs and of elec- 
tive courses. According to what that captain told him, Princeton or 
any other civilian university was a sort of intellectual Garden of 
Eden where you could wander at will, plucking fruits from any tree 
of knowledge and tossing them away after a few swift bites. As far 
as he could see, you did not have to bother about where you stood in 
your classes or whether you were drunk or sober. When Captain 


Wilbur produced a bottle of cognac smuggled into convalescent 
quarters contrary to regulations, it took Melville some time to find 
the courage to tell the captain that he had never tasted liquor at West 
Point. He had never forgotten Captain Wilbur's surprised look; In 
fact they had each looked upon the other as a freak. He was fasci- 
nated by civilian gripes about the army and its discipline. H. T. 
Wilbur could not wait, he simply could not wait, to get through with 
the whole business and to get home. He would tell in detail what he 
would do at home. He would take the family car and take a girl out 
to dine and dance. He would see all the shows in New York and he 
would sit up all night in a restaurant called "Jack's." H. T. Wilbur 
was speaking of a world of which Melville knew almost nothing, 
and though it fascinated him, Melville could not help but be uneasy. 
He was in a different class with a different rating. 

"Haven't you ever read this?" Captain Wilbur used to say. 
"Frankly, Mel, haven't you ever heard of that?" 

Of course, H. T. Wilbur was an amateur, being one of those 
ninety-day wonders from Leavenworth, yet his capacity for learn- 
ing was as good as Melville's own and his mind was attractively 
adorned. Wilbur really showed him what poetry was while they 
drank illicit cognac. He had never realized until he read Wilbur's 
copy of Housman that the music of words could have a power as 
great as cognac, and sometimes in his memory he could still see the 
Mediterranean in the twilight and catch the lilt of Wilbur's voice. It 
was just as well not to keep too much poetry in your quarters, be- 
cause some commanding officers might get odd ideas about you, but 
Melville had always kept the Housman and the Rupert Brooke books 
which H. T. Wilbur had given him. 

On that spring afternoon by the Battle Monument he discovered 
that a stray couplet of verse was moving through his mind for no 
good reason. It came from "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold — 
a sad poem, and he could think of no logical reason for being sad on 
his return to West Point. 

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; 
And we are here as on a darkling plain . . . 


He liked words that made sense and the meaning of these restless 
words was annoyingly vague to him, except that the Parade Ground 
was always called the Plain. Perhaps he had learned at the Point that 
there was no peace nor help for pain, but he had been surrounded by 
certitude, even certitude of the hereafter. If you were sad, it was best 
to get your mind on something else — but he was puzzled by that 
phrase, "a darkling plain." 

Then suddenly as he had stood there thinking, he heard his name 
called and he turned to see an officer walking toward him. Melville's 
mind moved like clockwork. The officer was Major H. A. Holton, in 
the Infantry like himself, and they had met once at Coblenz in the 
Army of Occupation. 

"How did you get up here, Goodwin ?" the major asked, and Mel- 
ville looked at him straight and respectfully, explaining why he was 
there, and the major in reply said that he was serving in the tactical 
department on the usual four-year tour. 

"Is there anything special you'd like to see?" the major asked, "or 
did you see too much of it when you were here?" 

"If it's all right, Fd like to see the barracks," Melville said. 

They walked side by side in careful step, and the closer they ap- 
proached the barracks the faster the clock turned backwards. There 
was the usual meticulous, spotless order in the corridors. When the 
major rapped on a door, the hasty scuffling inside conveyed to Mel- 
ville exactly what was going on. Two cadets stood at attention in 
their quarters, each behind his chair, correct in his carefully but- 
toned coat, though ten seconds before, Melville knew, they had been 
studying at their table with their coats hung on the chair backs. 
Either of those two cadets might have been an old image of him- 
self. He was a first lieutenant now, with his service ribbons and his 
decorations, but at the same time he was young Mel Goodwin, who 
had been writing a letter home before the "Tac" had knocked. He 
could look at those two cadets impersonally, as he had learned to look 
at soldiers, but at the same time they were as familiar as old shoes. 
He had not realized that cadets could be so uniformly beautiful, so 
clean and so precise. He had forgotten how perfect the curtain of 


impersonality had been that you learned to draw at any second. 

He was almost back in his own old quarters, with its regulation 
furnishings, clean, bare-walled, uncarpeted, devoid of almost any in- 
dividual possessions. As he saw the straight-backed chairs, he real- 
ized that during his whole stay at the Point he had scarcely ever sat 
in a comfortable seat — except in the First-Class Club Room and the 
quarters of the Dialectic Society — but then his posture had never 
made him feel the lack. He saw the iron beds with the mattresses 
folded back and every bit of property ready for sudden inspection. 
He saw the shoes, spotlessly clean, all in their proper order, uniforms 
all hanging in alignment, and other garments neatly folded on their 
shelves, nothing out of place by a fraction of an inch. He saw a 
framed picture of a girl on the upper shelf on which it was permis- 
sible to keep a photograph. He was surprised that it was not his old 
picture of Muriel. 

When the major introduced him to the cadets, he saw their eyes 
move from his face to his ribbons, and he smiled at them mechani- 
cally. Those cadets had their own problems and he did not want to 
waste their time, but he asked them a few agreeable questions, suit- 
able to the occasion, such as "Where do you come from, Mister?" 
and he saw that one of them had been writing a letter. 

"A letter home?" he asked. 

"No, sir," the cadet answered, "not exactly." 

It was the first and only crack in the veneer. It might have been 
the same room from which he had written to Muriel twice a week, 
seldom more often. It might have been the same room from which 
his thoughts had escaped to Muriel for an allotted space. He might 
have been one of the cadets, and the other might have been his room- 
mate, Spike Kennedy, who was now down in Texas with the 

"Thank you very much, sir," he said to the major, because the 
major was the one to thank and not the cadets, but he smiled again 
at the boys and wished them both good luck. It was a great experi- 
ence, being a cadet at the Point, though you could hardly write a 
"sweet college years" song about it. 

"Would you like to go through it again?" the major asked. 


"No, sir," Melville told him, "not exactly." 

They both grinned because it was something that was behind them 
now like World War I, and when something was behind you, its 
outlines generally softened — but not the outlines of the barracks. He 
remembered studying after taps by an electric light bulb concealed 
in the leg of a pair of trousers. He remembered going with Spike to 
an illicit food party, known in cadet slang as a "boodle party." They 
had not been caught, but you could not get away with much. 

During his particular years at the Point, you studied tactics and en- 
gineering and the handling of small bodies of troops, for good and 
sufficient reasons. You had a thirst for knowledge and you said your 
prayers in chapel, for good and sufficient reasons. You studied maps 
and orientation, knowing that you might have real use for them in 
the next few months. There was less time in the war days for social 
functions and consequently Muriel had not come to West Point 
often. She had only been there for one week-end hop, for Hundredth 
Night, and for a Summer Camp Show, until she came with her 
mother and the Goodwin family for the graduation and their wed- 
ding. He and Muriel were married, like a good many other girls and 
graduates, in the chapel, the day after his graduation. He was to re- 
port at Merritt in two weeks' time to proceed to France in a school de- 
tachment. In a way this was a compliment, and he was delighted to 
get overseas, but, even so, he was afraid that he would not see action 
before the war was over. 

Everything was compressed like a jack-in-the-box in those last few 
days, what with parades and the graduation and the ball and the de- 
tails of his new uniforms and equipment, and at the end of it, mar- 
riage. He could never forget the confusion of the time. He was a 
cadet and an army officer and a bridegroom all at once, and strangely 
enough he seemed to know very little about anything, almost nothing 
about routine troop duties, for instance. Nevertheless he could stand 
up straight and answer when he was spoken to, and he had learned 
how to take prompt action after estimating a situation. If he did not 
know how to win a war singlehanded, he knew as much as a lot of 
others in his class. 


The graduation order list had already been printed, and he stood 
in the middle of the first quarter. Some people were surprised that he 
had chosen Infantry instead of Artillery or Engineers, but he sup- 
posed he was simply one of those individuals who was born for In- 
fantry. He had always been an infantryman at heart, just as he had 
always been an admirer of U. S. Grant. 

It had not seemed possible that Muriel could be at the Old Hotel 
when he signed out of barracks to meet her on the afternoon of the 
graduation hop. He would have two hours to be with her, and when 
he saw her with her mother on the porch of the hotel, it was like a 
moment in a dream — but he was trained to handle it. 

"Why, Melville," Mrs. Reece said, "you look just as though you 
had stepped out of a bandbox." 

"That's just a part of everything here," he said. "I hope that you 
and Muriel had a good trip down, Mrs. Reece, and I hope your room 
is comfortable. Would you and Muriel care to walk around the 
grounds?" Other cadets were around him saying the same things to 
other girls and mothers. 

"I think I'd better take a little rest and unpack Muriel's wedding 
dress," Mrs. Reece said. "Why don't you take Muriel about the 
grounds of the Academy ? She loves it so." 

There was nothing pleasanter in a cadet's life than taking his One 
And Only around the grounds, and there he was with Muriel, with 
an hour and a half to spend. 

"Melly," Muriel said, "don't stand here showing ofl in front of 
everybody. Do you want to go walking or what do you want to do?" 

He was not showing off in front of anybody. He was simply trying 
to behave in a polite and natural manner. He was in the graduating 
class and he could not behave like a lower classman. 

"Why, anything you want, Muriel," he said. 

"Well," Muriel answered, "let's not stand here like two bumps on 
a log." 

They walked past the equestrian statue of George Washington. 

"Aren't you going to say anything?" she asked him. "Aren't you 
glad to see me?" 


"Yes, of course I'm glad," he said. 

"How glad?" 

"Very glad," he said. 

"Well, I'm glad to see you, Melly darling, and I'm awfully proud." 

He was very proud of her, too, in her broad-brimmed picture hat, 
but it seemed strange to have anyone call him "Melly." 

"Do you know yet where you're going to go — or anything?" she 

"No, not yet," he said. "We're still waiting to hear." 

"Well, I hope you're going to get overseas." It was the right thing 
for her to say. From the very beginning Muriel understood the army. 

An officer was walking toward them as they passed the statue, 
Captain Folsom, the Tactical Officer of Melville's company. It was a 
compliment that the captain stopped after returning his salute. Cap- 
tain Folsom during the last year had asked him several times to 
his quarters. They were almost friends and now they were almost 
brother officers. If the captain had oft%n run him ragged, this was all 
forgotten. It had all been for Melville's good. 

"Well," the captain said, "aren't you going to introduce me?" 

Melville blushed but he remembered the etiquette. 

"Miss Reece, may I present Captain Folsom?" he said. 

"How do you do, Miss Reece?" the captain said. "I recognized you 
from your photograph." 

"Oh," Muriel said, "on Melville's shelf." She knew all about the 
Point from his letters. 

"It's always been a pleasant moment in my inspection, seeing it," 
the captain said. "I'm the one who checks Mr. Goodwin's locker, 
and I know he'll never forget it . . . will you, Goodwin?" 

"No, sir," Melville answered. 

"It's a great pleasure to meet the photograph's original. You see, 
Mr. Goodwin and I have been through quite a lot together," the 
captain said. "May I make a suggestion, Mr. Goodwin?" 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"If I were walking with Miss Reece," the captain said, "I know 
where I'd be going — or are you on your way to Flirtation Walk ?" 

The memory of the captain smiling at him just as though he were 


not a cadet was one of his happiest memories of the Point, and the 
incident taught him a lesson that he never forgot. It paid to be kind 
to subordinates. He would have done anything for Folsom, but he 
was only to meet him twice again in the service, once in the War 
College at Washington and once dead in Africa at Kasserine Pass. 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. "I have had that in mind." 

"And thank you very much for bringing it up, sir," Muriel told 
Captain Folsom. "I'm not so sure he was thinking of it." 

Right from the beginning Muriel understood the army. She always 
knew what to say to superior officers, and she very seldom said too 

"He's the one who's your Tac, isn't he?" Muriel said. It was won- 
derful that she even knew the slang. 

"Melly," she said, "I'm glad we're going to be in the army. Now 
take me to Flirtation Walk." 

It was worth going to the Point just to be able to take a girl on 
that semirestricted walk along the Hudson. It was worth all the beat- 
ing that you took to do it. Muriel always understood the service and 
she understood, too, that there wasn't much time to learn about it 
back in June 191 8. 

You had to remember that 1918 was some thirty years in the past 
and he had never kept a diary, so the weeks before he went overseas 
had become scrambled in his memory like the eggs of an omelet. He 
could not remember exactly when he received his orders or much 
either about his wedding in the chapel. When you were caught up 
in the tides of war, you simply moved, a part of the machine. Their 
wedding in the chapel moved, too, by the numbers. The chaplain's 
usual advice was to wait a while and think it over and not get mar- 
ried the day after graduation. Theoretically, of course, no one had 
any business turning into a shavetail and a husband simultaneously, 
but as far as he could remember, no one listened seriously to the 
padre, and personally he was glad he hadn't. Nothing developed a 
capacity for enjoyment like a few years at the Point. What more 
could he have asked than what was given him that June? He was 
marrying the girl he had always wanted to marry. He was a soldier, 


and the biggest war the world had ever seen was getting bigger all 
the time, instead of petering out as he was afraid it might after the 
German breakthrough in March. He was like a football player who 
had been sitting on the sidelines, and now the coach was waving to 
him. That was the way he felt and it was the way any shavetail ought 
to feel. It was a great time to be alive — in June 191 8. 

Muriel had gone to a secretarial school after he had left for the 
Point, and she had been in the front office of the hat factory for two 
years, working for Mr. Reece and sometimes for Mr. Hallowell. It 
was a great relief that Muriel was able to take over the details of 
lodging and transportation. Muriel purchased the railroad tickets 
after the wedding and arranged for a reservation at the old Waldorf- 
Astoria Hotel on Thirty-fourth Street in New York. She had always 
wanted to go to the Waldorf. He had never realized what a capacity 
for leadership Muriel had developed until they took that wedding 
trip. Frankly, the old Waldorf was a big jump from the barracks and 
he was only a kid, still self-conscious in his officer's uniform. Every- 
thing around him was new, including his clothing roll and bedding 
roll and foot locker, but you'd have thought Muriel had been to the 
Waldorf a hundred times. Somehow she knew all the finer points 
about porters and taxicabs. Perhaps girls developed more quickly 
than boys in some ways. 

"Just follow the bellboys and me," Muriel said, "and ask for our 
reservation when you get to the desk." 

All he had to do was to follow Muriel, eyes front, along a corridor 
with marble columns and to tell himself that he was an officer in the 
United States Army, legally married to the girl ahead of him, and 
that he could provQ it by papers if necessary. He had to make a de- 
liberate effort not to stand at attention when he asked the room clerk 
if there was a reservation for Lieutenant and Mrs. Goodwin. He was 
not sure whether he should refer to himself as "Lieutenant" or plain 
"Mister," but "Lieutenant" sounded better, and, after all, the Wal- 
dorf was not a military installation. It was a shock to him when the 
clerk called him "sir," and he finally signed the register as "Melville 
A. Goodwin, 2nd Lt., Inf., USA, and wife." 

He was still so dazed when they went up in the elevator that 


Muriel had to whisper to him to take off his garrison cap. For a mo- 
ment he felt she was wrong until he realized that he was wearing no 
side arms. 

"Give each of the boys a quarter," Muriel whispered as they stood 
in the center of their room. 

In all the years they had been married he never had asked Muriel 
how she had learned about tips and hats in elevators. 

"Why did you sign your name 'Melville A. Goodwin, 2nd Lt., 
Inf., USA, and wife'?" Muriel asked. "You should have signed it 
'2nd Lt. and Mrs. Goodwin, USA/ " 

He had never asked her either how she knew that one. 

"It's all right, Mel," she said, "you don't have to go back to change 
it. What are you looking at now?" 

"The room," he said. "I should have asked how much it costs." 

The truth was you never thought much about money at the Point. 

"It costs a lot," Muriel said. "It costs eight dollars a day." 

"With food?" he asked. 

"No," she said, "without food. It's all right, there's the wedding- 
present money." 

It was true that Mr. Reece and Melville's father had each given 
them a hundred dollars, but it would not last long at that rate. 

"Just give me the money, Mel," she said. "I'll look after the ex- 
penses. It doesn't have to last long. We'll go back to Hallowell before 
it's finished, and then you're going overseas." 

"What's in that room there?" he asked. 

"It's the bathroom," Muriel said. 

"What," he said, "a private bath?" 

He did not mind when Muriel began to laugh. He did not even 
mind feeling like a plebe again in front of Muriel. 

"Look," he said, "it's got a tub." 

"Of course it has," she said. "Don't they have tubs at the Point?" 

"We take showers," he said. "There wouldn't be time to let the 
water run into a tub." 

"Well, there's time now," Muriel said. "Why don't you take a 

"What," he asked — "right now?" 


"Oh, Mel," she said, "don't be so silly. Go in and turn on the water, 
and I'll unpack our things." 

"Not my things," he said. 

"Mel," she called, above the running of the water, "hand me out 
your breeches." 

His hearing was as good as his eyesight, but he had felt that there 
must be some mistake. 

"Your trousers or whatever you call them," Muriel said. "I want 
to count our money." 

He walked into the bedroom in his shirttails and handed her his 

"Don't," he said, "don't wrinkle them, Muriel. What's so funny?" 

"Just being married," Muriel said, "and I guess it's particularly 
funny being married to somebody from West Point." 

A long time later, when he was a captain, he and Muriel dis- 
covered that many incidents in their abbreviated New York honey- 
moon, including that bath at the Waldorf, made a story that would 
set a dinner party into roars of laughter. He never suspected until 
he began observing other youngsters reporting for duty that their 
experience was in many ways universal. Now that he thought of it, 
once when he had dined in London with the big boss himself, some- 
one had suggested, how about his telling about him and Muriel at 
the Waldorf, and it went over very well. It made the big boss laugh, 
and it even amused an admiral and a field marshal. Muriel's teaching 
him how to smoke a cigarette made a good story in itself. He had 
never heard of breakfast in bed and he never knew that Muriel 
smoked, either, until she asked him to get her purse and pulled a 
pack of cigarettes out of it. Muriel had told him it would be a good 
thing to learn to smoke if he were going to France, and as usual she 
was right. That was Muriel's story, but he had one of his own, too, 
and it was pretty good, if he did say so. 

The first night they were in New York, they had gone to a musi- 
cal comedy. All you had to do was to pick up the telephone and 
order the seats at the Waldorf. Just as they were going to get in the 
taxi for the theater, he took his first salute. Two enlisted men went 


by and their hands snapped up when they saw him, and Muriel had 
to tell him that they were saluting him. The name of that musical 
comedy, he thought, was Going Up, all about aviation. Between the 
acts the street was full of officers, and an artillery major asked him 
for a match. Muriel was the one who supplied it out of her pocket- 
book, and she told him to light it for the major. Then the major saw 
his ring and thanked him very elaborately. The major's collar in- 
signia was "USR" not "US." It was his first encounter with the war- 
time service and with its individuals from civil life. The officer had 
been drinking, and it hurt Melville to see that one of his pockets was 
unbuttoned. He almost thought of mentioning it but he refrained, 
because of age and rank. A regular had to take his orders, no mat- 
ter what he thought. 

After the show, he and Muriel walked down Sixth Avenue and 
passed an open-air shooting gallery. Some enlisted men behind them 
were singing a snatch of a popular song, "If you can fight like you 
can love, good night, Germany!'* 

"Melly," Muriel said, "let's see if you can shoot like you can love." 

As a matter of fact, when he came to think of it he was a better 
shot than lover, or at least he had had more practice. It was a big 
elaborate gallery with strings of ducks, revolving pipes and balls 
bouncing on jets of water. He would not have shot if two Infantry 
privates had not called out to move back and give the lieutenant a 
chance. At least he knew what he was doing when the attendant 
handed him a twenty-two, even if the weapon was chained to the 
counter. It was a nicely balanced little rifle, warm from a lot of shoot- 
ing, but very dirty. 

"All right," he told Muriel, "I'll try the ducks," and he knocked all 
the ducks over, snap, snap. Now that he had the feel of the rifle, he 
went on to the revolving wheels of pipes and cleaned out three 
wheels of them, but by that time he had shot fifty cents' worth, which 
was enough money for that sort of thing. 

"Jesus," the men were saying, "look at that lieutenant. Go ahead 
and clean it out, Lieutenant." 

He was better at snap shooting later. There was a trick to it like 
anything else. 


"Go on, Melville," Muriel said, but he told her they were wasting 

"I'll tell you what I'll do, Bud," the proprietor of the gallery said. 
"If you knock off the balls from the fountains from left to right, you 
can have all the shooting for nothing." 

A crowd had gathered behind him. The balls were erratic, 
but Muriel was there and he decided to shoot fast, even if he 

"One," the men began to chant, "two, three, four; Jesus, look at 
the lieutenant — five, six, seven, eight," and then there was a groan. 

"Oh, Melly," Muriel said, "you missed the last one." 

"That's all right," one of the infantrymen said, "don't you mind 
what she calls you, Melly." 

Melville set his rifle down carefully on the counter. It was his first 
experience with troops except for the well-trained personnel at the 
Point. If Muriel had not been there, he would have let the matter 
drop, but now he had to do something, and this was the part of the 
story he liked best, because it had a moral. The man was a green 
soldier on leave, and even then Melville could see that he meant no 

"What's your first name?" he asked. He spoke quietly like his 
Tac, Captain Folsom, at the Point. 

"Charlie," the soldier said. 

"Charlie what?" Melville asked. 

"Charlie Thompson." 

"Yes," Melville said, "but Charlie Thompson what?" 

"Charlie Thompson, sir." 

"Atta boy," the soldiers called, "give it to him, Lieutenant." 

A good officer, he knew, should never get mad at troops. He was 
glad to remember that he had been adroit enough to smile. 

"That's right," he said. "You guessed the answer. I'll give you five 
dollars if you'll knock off that last ball, Charlie." 

"Go ahead, Charlie," the men called, "take his five dollars, 

"I couldn't shoot that good, sir," the soldier said. 

He had been smart enough to know that he was as young as any 


of those boys and he had made his point, and he had done right, 
calling the soldier "Charlie." 

"Well," he said, and he had the sense to smile again, "you're going 
where you ought to learn. Remember to squeeze and not to jerk, and 
hook up your collar and button up your pockets." 

He smiled again at the troops and pulled out the bill that Muriel 
had left him to pay the gallery. 

"If there's anything left over," he said, "let some of these soldiers 
use it. Come on, Muriel." 

The moral of the story was, you had to learn to handle troops right 
if you were going to the front and didn't want a shot in the back. 
Never let them get away with anything, but remember the human 
equation. . . . 

"Say, Lieutenant, sir," one of the men said, "what outfit are you 

The man, being a sergeant, should have known better. According 
to military courtesy, he should have phrased his question in the third 
person, but then he was not in Melville's outfit. 

"I haven't been assigned to any yet, Sergeant," Melville said. 

"Well, I hope to God you get into ours, sir," the sergeant said. 

"Why, thanks, Sergeant," Melville said, "and here's wishing you a 
lot of luck. Come on, Muriel/' 

"Why, Melly," Muriel said, "you sounded just like an officer." 

It was not an intelligent critique, seeing that Muriel could not 
really know yet how an officer should sound. 

"I mean," she said, before he could tell her so, "you sounded just 
like your Tac at West Point, that nice Captain Folsom." 

It was a good idea to have a model when you started in the army, 
and he had been trying to sound like the captain, though he felt 
slightly deflated because she had guessed. 

"It might be just as well," he said, "if you didn't call me Melly." 

"Yes, sir," Muriel said, "and I'm pleased you're assigned to 
my outfit, sir, and take off that hat when we get into that eleva- 

It all made a pretty good story, if you told it among old friends, or 
even if you had to make yourself agreeable to some gauche young 

officer and his wife, and there was another moral to that story, and 
he always liked to end it with that moral. The moral was, don't let 
your wife control the situation all the time. Let her handle you but 
you handle troops, and don't push troops too hard when they're on 
leave, especially in the States. 


Who Pants for Glory Finds but Short Repose 

The mass of American manpower that poured into France that 
summer left much to be desired from the point of view of training. 
It was basically excellent material but very raw, and admittedly even 
some of the regular divisions were not yet the smoothly working 
units that they should have been. One of the most peculiar things in 
the whole picture was the difficulty experienced by a well-trained 
officer in ever reaching a position within the range of enemy small- 
arms fire. This was ironical, but when you came to think of it, natu- 
ral enough, since there was a demand which simply could not be 
filled for personnel to instruct green troops. If you exhibited any un- 
usual skills and abilities in those days, someone was apt to grab you. 
All you had to do was stick your neck out a quarter of an inch and 
you did not have to fight. Instead you would be teaching others the 
theory without ever having had the practice. It was marvelous in 
view of this that the percentage of West Point graduates killed was 
in the end higher than that of any other group. It spoke volumes for 
their keenness and anxiety to do what they were trained to do, 
namely to lead in battle. When Melville Goodwin came to think of 
it, he was lucky ever to have seen the fighting. A lot of his classmates 
never even got overseas. 

Melville Goodwin was ordered to France in a school detachment 
of officers from a new division which was still being organized in the 
States. The officers of the school detachment were to receive various 
sorts of technical instruction in France, after which they would meet 
that nebulous division at some debarkation point and assist in its 
final polishing. This would have been an excellent idea if the de- 
mand for manpower had not become pressing after the German 
breakthrough in the vicinity of Chateau-Thierry in July. If the 


Ludendorff concentrations had not been effective, Lieutenant Good- 
win might have studied the theories of the machine gun and of 
trench-mortar fire all summer. He was always grateful that the Ger- 
man general staff had come close to solving the problem of the 
breakthrough and that something close to open warfare had precipi- 
tated a sudden crisis. 

However, he had no way of knowing the plans of the German 
general staff when he received his orders to report at Camp Merritt. 
He only knew that he was going to France for training after a few 
days' leave at home. Most of his able-bodied contemporaries had left 
Hallowell months before as volunteers or draft troops and the sooner 
he went, too, the better. People on Prospect Street looked curiously 
and sometimes bitterly, he thought, at his gold bars, and there 
seemed to be a feeling that he had become an officer as a result of 
some sort of pull or juggling. The implication was that here was 
Melville Goodwin all polished up and an officer and married, too, 
with a nice soft place for himself when he should have been out in 
the mud with all the other boys. Muriel was furious when people did 
not understand that it was more dangerous to be an officer than a 
private soldier, particularly a West Point officer. 

"Well, Melville," his father said, when Melville had explained to 
him about the advance school detachment, "I thought you had been 
working at West Point learning about those same things." 

His mother, however, was glad that the army was taking care of 
him. She had been terribly worried for fear he might go into the 
fighting right away, but now she could look over all his equipment, 
his beautiful puttees, his sleeping bag and all the things in his green 
foot locker without feeling any more that they meant he was going 
to be killed. She was glad at last that he had gone to West Point 
and that the army knew he was valuable. He hoped that she would 
not say things like that around town, and he asked her not to, but 
of course she did when she worked at the Red Cross center. The 
truth was that civilians never could understand about the army. 

Muriel wanted to go with him and to stay somewhere in New 
Jersey outside of Camp Merritt until the detachment finally sailed, 
but he told her that it was better to say good-by right there in Hal- 


lowell. She would be all right because she could go to work again in 
her father's office at the hat factory. Yet even Muriel could not wholly 
understand his point of view. 

"I know it's awful for you, waiting here," she said, "but I wish you 
wouldn't act as though you were so glad to leave me." 

The thing to do in wartime was to get away from home. Women, 
even Muriel, were only a complication when you were going over- 
seas. It never helped to remember the look on a woman's face when 
you were leaving her, even if she were as brave as Muriel. It was 
demoralizing to see a woman trying to be brave. 

"I'd hate to have you stay," Muriel said, ". . . but you'll think of 
me sometimes, won't you?" 

Women, even the best of them, could not help but be jealous of 
war. They never did wholly believe it when you said you would al- 
ways be thinking of them and you never believed it either. He even 
thought at times that he should not have married Muriel, that it was 
not fair to her, but thoughts like that were bad for the morale. There 
was no use describing the details of parting because the thing to do 
was to get going and get away from home and to try to forget as 
much of those last moments as you could. He hated to admit when 
he finally said good-by, that he was glad to go. 

When he saw the wooden barracks and the mess halls of the em- 
barkation center at Camp Merritt and turned in his orders, he was 
happier than he had been for days and days. It was like coming 
home, to arrive at Merritt. There was a beautiful, restful simplifica- 
tion. An American army post anywhere in the world would be more 
like home to him in the future than any other place. 

"Orderly," the major on duty said, "take the lieutenant to Quar- 
ters C, Square 5." 

All he had to say was Yes, sir, thank you, sir, and then salute and 
about face, one, two. The President of the United States had reposed 
special trust and confidence in his patriotism, valor, fidelity and abil- 
ity, and he was going to the war. 

Army life had its dull moments, but no new assignment was ever 
dull. An assignment to a new command even today was a personal 


challenge, and a fresh, blank page on your ledger. An embarkation 
depot always reminded him of that quatrain in the Rubdiydt about 
the tent where took his one night's rest, the Sultan to the realms of 
death addressed. Other guests had come before you and others would 
follow, and you only waited there in a sort of limbo before you 
marched aboard the transport. 

He had hardly entered the barracks at Merritt and had scarcely 
started to look over the officers of the school detachment, who were 
checking their equipment, or sleeping, or reading or playing cards, 
before he saw Spike Kennedy, his roommate at the Point. He had 
never been so glad to see anyone as he was to see Spike, and they 
stood there for a while laughing and pounding each other on the 
back. Spike had only been there six hours ahead of him, but he 
already had the swing of everything. 

"Say, Mel," Spike kept saying, "we've got to stick together." 

The thing to remember, Spike said, was that they were in a pretty 
funny crowd. Lieutenant Colonel Redfern, the detachment CO, came 
from the Point himself and had seen service in the Philippine insur- 
rection and the Boxer Rebellion, but aside from him there were no 
other regulars in the detachment unless you included a former en- 
listed man, now a lieutenant. All the rest of these birds who were 
going over, Spike said, were either from the National Guard or from 
Plattsburg or somewhere. They had not been for more than six 
months in the service, but some of them seemed pretty bright. Some 
of them had been lawyers and things like that, and one of them, an 
Artillery captain named Tucker, had been a college professor. It was 
comical seeing all these poor birds trying to be soldiers. Those guys 
simply did not have a West Point education, and the only thing to do 
was to help them. 

Lieutenant Colonel Redfern exhibited approximately the same at- 
titude when Spike took Melville around to the colonel's quarters to 
report. The colonel had a small box of a room to himself at the end 
of the quarters with a cot, two chairs and a table. He was in his 
middle forties, lean and stringy, with pale blue eyes and a long, red- 
dish face. It was only when the colonel got quietly drunk by himself 
on the transport that Melville began to feel that he had failings. He 


must have been very lonely with that school detachment, or else he 
would not have expressed himself as frankly as he had. 

"Sit down, gentlemen," the colonel said. "This is a hell of a war. 
God damn it, I never thought I'd end up taking a zoo across the 
ocean. My God, there's even a college professor. Do you play bridge, 

"No, sir,'* Melville said. 

"That's right," the colonel said, "I forgot the attitude toward cards 
at the Point." 

The colonel stared at the table in front of him. 

"We're getting out of here in forty-eight hours," he said. "Any 

"No, sir," Melville answered. 

"Well, if you have any," the colonel said, "don't bother me with a 
damn one of them. The main thing is don't bother me. Do you 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"You get that, too, do you, Kennedy?" 

"Yes, sir," Spike Kennedy answered. 

"Then repeat it." 

"The main thing is not to bother you, sir, about anything." 

"That's right," the colonel said. "All the rest will, but you won't, 
because you're from the Point. I don't understand civilians. Do you 
understand civilians, Goodwin?" 

"I don't know, sir," Melville said. 

"Don't say you don't know," the colonel told him. "Never try to 
understand them. Have as little to do with them as is reasonably 
possible. You'll only get yourselves confused, fraternizing with those 
ninety-day wonders. That's my considered advice." 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"Now one thing more," Colonel Redfern said. "Our association 
will be brief, but I might be able to teach you the rudiments of 
bridge. It calms the mind, it teaches patience and self-control." 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"Well," the colonel said, "we've got to get this organized. That 
damn professor, Captain Tucker, plays bridge. We can sweat 


Tucker. Kennedy, give him my compliments and tell him to report 
in here after supper for bridge with you two young gentlemen. You 

"Yes, sir," they both said, and they stood up. 

"Very well," the colonel said, "that's all for now." 

Lieutenant Colonel Redfern was quite a card. Heaven only knew 
what became of him later. He had no future and he never told about 
his past, but all the way over on the old Kroonland, Colonel Redfern 
had them playing bridge whenever they were not on submarine 
lookout. Sometimes even now when Melville played a no-trump 
hand, he could think of himself in his life jacket aboard the Kroon- 
land and he could see the whole convoy again, spread out like ducks 
on the gray Atlantic with an old battle cruiser leading them, and he 
could see the old four-stack destroyers that came to meet them when 
they reached the danger zone. 

"If you had counted your cards," he could hear the colonel say, 
"you would have known that there would be an eight against you." 

Yes, Lieutenant Colonel Redfern was quite a card. Melville could 
remember him more clearly than he could remember the docks at 
Saint-Nazaire. This was not peculiar, because one day after landing, 
he was on a train, and three days later he was at the headquarters 
of a division north of Chateau-Thierry, and an hour after that, with 
no food in his stomach, he was on a truck moving to the front as a 
replacement officer for an Infantry regiment which was to attack at 
dawn. The Germans were retreating then in the Chateau-Thierry 
salient, and there was no time for school detachments. 

There had been a momentary view of Brittany, then a six-hour 
wait in a Paris station and then a trip through villages with all their 
roofs blown off and unburied corpses in the fields. Then there was a 
road in the dusk jammed with French cavalry. It was the first and 
last time he ever saw cavalry in any war. Next there was the sound of 
shells bursting in a patch of woods, and he was walking through the 
woods in the dark. Then he was behind the blankets of a dugout in a 
regimental Post of Command. It was like a bad dream, but it was the 

"Take this officer up to C Company," the adjutant was saying. 

2 74 

Then he was outside again with a guide, stumbling through the 
dark. His locker trunk and bedding roll were nowhere. He did not 
even have a pack or blanket but he did have a web belt and a forty- 
five automatic and one of those flat tin hats of World War I. He did 
not know where he was going and he had not even seen a map. The 
company command post was in a shell hole in the woods and he was 
told to stay there until morning, and join his platoon at dawn. Al- 
most without his knowing how he got there, he was in the middle of 
an artillery duel. The seventy-fives were firing over him and ma- 
chine guns were chattering out ahead. There was nothing he could 
fit together, but it was a great experience. 

General Melville Goodwin paused and lighted a cigarette, and 
there was dead silence in the library. 

"It was quite a mess at Chateau-Thierry," the General said. "Any 
advance with green troops like that is always that way. Everything 
in back keeps pushing you. God damn, you've got to go." 

Melville Goodwin was out of his chair and on his feet as though 
everything were pushing him still, and perhaps his memories were. 
His face was bright and he seemed to enjoy every one of his memo- 
ries. He reminded me of a football player describing a touchdown. 

"That company wasn't a bad outfit, considering, but maybe I'm 
sentimental. You always love your first outfit. It always seems to be 
the way it was originally, even when it gets the hell shot out of it. 
God damn!" He began to laugh. "We really didn't know anything. 
Most of those troops were like kids playing cops and robbers against 

He tossed his cigarette into the fireplace. 

"Well, anyway, we're up at the front," he said. "I admit it's taken 
a long while to get there. Suppose we all take fifteen minutes out." 

He looked at Phil Bentley and Miss Fineholt, but no one an- 

"Do you remember the song," he asked, "'The colonel got the 
Croix de guerre, and the son of a bitch, he wasn't there' ? Well, this 
son of a bitch was, but let's take fifteen minutes out. Come on, 


Colonel Flax stood up instantly and followed the General out of 
the library. 

"I was there myself, sir," I heard the colonel saying, "at a place 
near Le Charme, but it wasn't charming then." 

Miss Fineholt and Phil Bentley and I still sat silently, considering 
the life and times and metamorphosis of Melville Goodwin. He had 
changed himself from a schoolboy at Hallowell into what he was 
today in the course of a very brief time, without mirrors or decep- 
tion, but it was hard to follow the process in retrospect. He had not 
known enough to take off his hat in the elevator, and now there he 
was, in the shell hole in the woods, with nothing to hold the tale 
together but a feeble string of anecdotes. 

"God," Phil Bentley said, "what a life!" 

"Whose," I asked, "yours or his?" 

"His," Phil Bentley said. "Anyway, I guess we have something 
to be thankful for. We never had to go to the Point." Phil sighed 
and took off his glasses. "And that Lieutenant Colonel Redfern — 
my God, he can't be real." 

I might have explained that any of the rest of us would have seen 
Colonel Redfern in a different light. 

"People like him keep cropping up over there," I said. "You must 
have seen a few yourself." 

"I never knew how lucky I was before," Phil Bentley said. "Oh, 
God — there'll be another day of this and he'll be back in fifteen 

Then I remembered that I had promised Helen to take a walk 
with Camilla. It was after four, and the machine guns were still 
chattering in the woods north of Chateau-Thierry. Everything was 
still really a mess around Chateau-Thierry, but some of Company C 
had been first-team material. . . . 

Until I saw Camilla in jodhpurs and a light-brown pullover 
sweater, I had not faced the fact that Helen had started her on rid- 
ing lessons. All Camilla's class at the Country Day School, Helen 
had said, were going to a place called the Winding River Riding 
Academy conducted by an Anglo-Irish gentleman from Galway 


named Mr. Delaney. Mr. Delaney was also master of an organiza- 
tion known as the Winding River Hunt, which Helen said was 
popular in the neighborhood, and Helen said that Mr. Delaney 
was popular, too, and that he was not an ordinary riding teacher. 
He came from an old Galway hunting family and he was asked 
everywhere and we should have him over sometime and talk to 
him about our stables. I had learned lately that a number of people, 
even in our age group, had taken up riding because of the social 
contacts the sport afforded. In fact Helen had taken me to a hunt 
tea recently, where everyone was in riding clothes like Camilla's, and 
I had not known what to talk about at the tea, never having ridden 
myself. It was curious to see my own child looking like a miniature 
of all those extrovert strangers. It made me realize what a specialized 
place a child's world had become since I had grown up — at least 
out here in Connecticut. It was necessary now for children to be- 
come proficient in all sorts of skills. They could not simply bat a 
ball around or paddle in the creek. They had to learn how to volley 
and smash in tennis and how to perform the eight-beat crawl in a 
swimming pool. 

Camilla seemed to be growing away from me already and, as often 
happened these days, we both struggled to find a common subject 
for conversation. 

"Daddy," Camilla said, "why don't you carry a cane when you go 

"Why should I?" I asked. 

"Because other children's fathers around here always carry walking 
sticks when they go walking in the country," Camilla said. 

There was a time when you struggled to have your parents appear 
like other parents, and I was conscious of my own inadequacy, but 
there was nothing I could do about it. 

"Well, I haven't got a walking stick," I said. 

Camilla took my hand and it always made me happy when she 

"It's all right. I only suggested it," she told me. "You don't really 
need it, Daddy." 

She did not sound like a daughter of mine. She spoke with the 


fine clipped accent of Miss Otts, but then Helen had employed Miss 
Otts for exactly that purpose. On the other hand, if I had adopted 
Miss Otts's manner of speech, I would have been taken off the air, 
and there would have been no Savin Hill or riding lessons. It oc- 
curred to me that I must go back in a little while and look over the 

"Well," I said, "what did you do at riding school ?" 

"We rode around in a circle," Camilla said. "Mr. Delaney stood 
in the middle. My horse's name was Daisy." 

It was exactly what a horse should have been named, and I told 
her it was a quiet name and I hoped that Daisy was a quiet horse, 
but I had never ridden around any Mr. Delaney in a ring. 

"Daddy," Camilla said, "we never have time to have a talk. What 
are we going to talk about?" 

I had planned to walk through the garden and then up the hill to 
a patch of woods and then through the woods and back down to the 
stables, but I had not thought of any subject of conversation. 

"We've got to talk about something," Camilla said. "We can't just 

"Why can't we?" I asked. "Everybody talks too much, Camilla." 

"It isn't any fun just walking," Camilla said. 

As a matter of fact we did not have to work this out immediately 
because when we walked around the house to the garden, we en- 
countered the General and Colonel Flax, standing together on the 
path, staring intently at some marks the General was making in the 

"The emplacement was up there," the General said, "at the edge 
of the trees, and this area here was open. There was a dead space 
here where you could crawl on your belly if you wriggled like a 
snake, and they couldn't cover the whole sector all at once." 

He looked up from the marks on the path. He had not seen us 
and I don't believe that he had heard us, but something must have 
told him that he and Colonel Flax were no longer alone fighting 
World War I. 

"Well, well," he said, "and here's Camilla. Come here and 
shake hands with the old man. I've hardly laid eyes on Camilla. 


We haven't had time to get acquainted but we'll have time someday." 

"Camilla's pretty busy," I said. "She runs on a very tight schedule." 

When I saw Camilla looking at the General's stars and ribbons 
and timidly holding out her hand, something in her wide-eyed ex- 
pression reminded me of Rudyard Kipling's little Una on Pook's 
Hill. The outlines of the garden were soft in the late October sun- 
light, and she might have been meeting Kipling's Roman centurion 
or his kind old knight. I wondered whether she knew enough 
about English history to understand Puc\ of Pool's Hill if I should 
ever have time to read it to her. 

"Well, well," the General said, "so you've been out riding, have 

"Yes," Camilla said. 

"When you speak to General Goodwin," I told her, "remember 
to call him 'sir.' " 

Both the General and Colonel Flax looked self-conscious. 

"Don't you mind your pappy, darling," the General said. "How'd 
it be if you call me 'Uncle Mel' ? " 

There was no way of telling how it would be, because Camilla 
stared at him without answering. 

"I used to have two little boys once myself," he said. "They were 
always full of dirt and devilment. I'll tell you about them someday, 
Camilla. They were always riding bareback. They started riding at 
Benning. Did you ever see the children's riding class at Benning, 

"No, sir," the colonel said. 

"The instructor there was a nice old stable sergeant, an old-time 
cavalryman. They're as rare as whooping cranes now." 

Colonel Flax looked at his wrist watch. 

"I think they may be waiting for us in the library, sir," he said. 

"Oh, all right," the General said, "all right. Are you coming, Sid?" 

It was a question, not an order, but nevertheless I felt apologetic. 

"I'll be back in a little while, sir," I said, "but you're right in the 
groove now and you don't need me for a while. I'm just going to 
walk up that hill with Camilla." 

"What hill?" the General said. 


"Just up to the woods there," I told him, and I pointed beyond 
the garden and General Goodwin examined the hill. 

"Well, don't be too long, Sid," he said. "I don't like it in there 
without you, and you'd better send a patrol out first. There might be 
a machine gun in those woods." 

Camilla took my hand and we walked across the garden. 

"Daddy," she asked, "who is General Goodwin?" 

Probably no one had explained him to her except possibly Miss 
Otts, whose knowledge of the American army would have been rudi- 
mentary. I wondered what the General looked like through Camilla's 
eyes and from the point of view of an age in which fact and folklore 
were always coming into collision. She must have seen him as a new 
recruit might, but with even greater awe, since all his brass had 
been designed through the centuries to impress trusting childish 
minds. This, in the last analysis, was the only reason for uniform 
and spit and polish. It was difficult to tell in a few words who Gen- 
eral Goodwin was. I could not tell Camilla that he was a resultant 
of a disturbed political order or one of those people you had to main- 
tain as an insurance against dangerous contingencies. 

"He's a man who tells soldiers what to do," I said. "He has those 
stars on his shoulders so that anyone can tell that he's a general. Now 
Colonel Flax only has eagles because he isn't a general yet. The more 
important a general is, the more stars he has and the more of those 
ribbons over his pocket. Some poor generals only have one star. 
General Goodwin has two." 

"How many stars can you get to have," Camilla asked, "if you get 
to know everything?" 

I could see where her mind was moving. They must still have been 
giving out stars in school as rewards for scholastic attainment. 

"They can get up as high as five stars," I said, "but hardly any of 
them do, Camilla, and when you get five stars, you can have them 
in a circle and not in a row." 

"Will he get five stars?" Camilla asked. 

"I don't think so," I said, "but don't tell him I said so, Camilla. 
That might hurt his feelings." 

"Isn't he bright enough?" Camilla asked. 


"I don't know," I said. "It's hard to tell." 

I really did not know. I was already beginning to revise my early 
estimates of him. Automatic fire could not cover every inch of 
ground because of natural contours. The traverse of a machine gun 
only had a limited number of degrees, and General Goodwin's 
capacity also had its limits. There were blind spots in him, egregious 
gaps, but then I was becoming conscious of extraordinary areas of 

"Is he anything like Samson?" Camilla asked. 

"Who?" I asked. 

"You know, like Samson in the Bible." 

"Oh, Samson," I said. "Samson wasn't bright at all or he wouldn't 
have let Delilah cut his hair off. I don't think Samson would have 
been a two-star general." 

Then I began to think that I might be wrong about Samson. High 
physical courage always had its blind spots, and even if you had five 
stars, perhaps there was always some Delilah in the background 
sharpening up the shears. 

When I had returned to the library, I could tell from the General's 
voice that I had missed something. 

"I was waiting until it was firing over there," the General said. 
"The damn thing couldn't be everywhere at once, and I had time 
to get up on my knees and . . . Oh, there you are, Sid. Did you 
have a nice walk with Camilla?" 

"You made quite an impression on Camilla," I said. 

"What's that song?" the General asked. "'I love the ladies . . . 
and the ladies all love me'?" 

I was a disturbing influence, and everyone looked impatient. 

"How about it?" Phil said. "Did you throw in the grenade?" 

"You're damned well right I did," the General said, "and it landed 
on the button, or I wouldn't be here now." 

I had missed a good deal by taking time out. I had left Lieutenant 
Melville Goodwin in the shell hole in the woods at the PC of C Com- 
pany, but I caught up with the story later when I read Miss Fine- 
holt's notes. 



His Nec\ Was Out a Mile 

Artillery fire, even under optimum conditions, had not devel- 
oped the precision it attained in World War II and there were no 
conditions at all in the Chateau-Thierry salient, optimum or other- 
wise. It was no joke in those days to be out in front of American 
artillery. The artillery was firing short that night, though this was 
no one's fault particularly, since no one had located the front lines. 
Even though Melville Goodwin was in a so-called regular division, 
a lot of company officers had not yet learned how to determine their 
positions on a French one-to-twenty-thousand map, and there weren't 
enough maps anyway. In the pitch dark you could hear the shells 
crashing among the trees. The company command post was trying 
to get the regiment whose code name was "Banana One," but the line 
was dead. There were no bananas and he was told to stay where he 
was instead of trying to reach his platoon in the dark. 

In the morning he first saw gray in the sky and then the tree- 
tops and then figures moving in the woods. The night seemed to 
rise up slowly like a curtain, on a scene of distorted confusions. No 
one could adequately describe the disorder of a battlefield with its lit- 
ter of equipment and the senseless distribution of materiel. The cap- 
tain of Company C had been killed on the previous afternoon and 
the commanding officer was a first lieutenant who spoke with a 
broad "A." There was not much chance to exchange any ideas with 
him because this officer ended up a few hours later by being dead 
himself. Melville Goodwin could only remember that he was not a 
regular, that his name was Johnson and that he was covered with 
mud, but even if he was not a regular, he might have been a good 


officer, because he was as much in touch with all his company as 
anyone could have been under the circumstances. The orders were 
to advance at dawn through the woods, and Melville Goodwin went 
forward to take the command of the Second Platoon from a sergeant. 
It was not the best way to begin with troops, walking in among 
them out of nowhere. In fact he did not reach his platoon until 
after the sergeant had blown his whistle and all he could do was to 
tell the sergeant to go ahead. Fortunately the sergeant was an old 
army man, thickset, in his late thirties, with a face like a side of beef. 
His name was Riley and Melville did not need to tell him anything. 

"They've pulled out, sir," the sergeant said. "It's all clear just 

There was nothing arduous in walking with the sergeant beneath 
the trees because there was not much underbrush to cope with in 
those French forests. The Frenchmen were always cutting brush 
for firewood, always saving everything. There was always a lot of 
griping about the French, and he had to admit they were a funny 
race — and unsanitary. For instance they all enjoyed collecting large 
heaps of manure right in their front yards, usually beside the well. 
It seemed the richer you were in France the bigger your manure 
heap, and he should know because he kept falling in manure heaps 
as the outfit fought its way up to the Vesle. Yet at the same time 
their farms were neater than any around Hallowell. 

The country they advanced over that morning was not cut up by 
hedges like the land around St. Nazaire. It was hay and grain fields 
and pastures and orderly patches of woods on top of rolling hills. 
When the infantry pushed ahead, it was like a pleasant practice ma- 
neuver. Though a mist was rising from the valleys, the sun was 
breaking through the clouds and there were patches of blue sky — 
and his uniform was drying. The artillery fire was slackening, be- 
cause the guns were moving forward. Everything was moving for- 
ward, and the Germans were pulling out of that salient so hastily 
that only light forces were engaged. 

Of course no officer, least of all a lieutenant in the first wave, 
could get the whole picture of an operation. Yet some individuals 
were born with a tactical seventh sense. It was an indesci ibable 

2 s 3 

gift — "the feel of battle" Melville Goodwin had called it in a paper 
he had once read before the War College. You had it or you did 
not have it. He could see nothing except the men of his platoon walk- 
ing through the woods, but at the same time he could feel whole 
divisions moving — reserves, artillery and supply. Attack was in the 
air and attack was in his blood. The feel of battle was impersonal, 

His platoon was a machine and he was already beginning to ex- 
amine it and to estimate its capabilities. The men were wet and their 
faces were drawn. They were tired but not too tired. They moved 
ahead cautiously but not nervously. They had left their heavy equip- 
ment but they carried gas masks, rifles, grenades and bayonets. 

"Sergeant,'* he asked, "did the men have breakfast before they 

He thought that the sergeant gave him a peculiar look and he 
realized that "breakfast" sounded odd out there, though the word 
was quite correct. 

"They had corned willy and hardtack, sir," the sergeant said. 

They were better off than he was, but he no longer felt hungry. 

"What about water?" he asked. "Are their canteens filled?" 

The sergeant gave him another look. "We've about run out of 
drinking water," he said. 

"Have they got chlorine tablets?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Then have them fill their canteens the next place where there's 
a well or any running water, and see that each of them drops in 
about six tablets." 

"Yes, sir," the sergeant said, peering into the woods ahead. He 
knew that the sergeant must have thought he was a little snot, but 
still it was a sensible order. 

He saw that the trees were thinning and that they were reaching 
the edge of the woods. Everything was quiet, except for the rustling 
of branches and the snap of small twigs underfoot and the dripping 
from the trees and the distant artillery, until suddenly he heard 
machine guns on the right front and the crack of bullets passing 
close overhead. The sound, he always had thought, was like his 


mother's sewing machine — a mechanical staccato that frayed the 

"Tell the men to lie down, Sergeant," he said. 

Perhaps he should have given the order himself, but then the men 
had hardly seen him. They were approaching a line of resistance, but 
it was only a hasty improvisation by the enemy to afford a delay 
which would facilitate his retreat. 

"Come with me, Sergeant," he said, and they crawled to the edge 
of the trees. 

"Easy," he heard the sergeant whisper. "You gotta watch it, Lieu- 

The sergeant did not need to tell him. He was crawling as he had 
been taught, wriggling and propelling himself with knees and el- 
bows, taking advantage of the tall grass at the edge of the wood. A 
pretty pastoral scene lay before them, a broad open field of hay which 
had not yet been harvested but which was too short and trampled to 
afford cover. The ground ahead rose gradually to a low ridge 
crowned by another patch of woods. The whole scene was surpris- 
ingly peaceful, but still his breath was coming fast and his heart 
made a drumming sound in his ears, from excitement rather than 
fear. Frankly, he could never remember feeling fear in action. It 
was a thing that came before or afterwards rather than in the middle. 
Besides, his mind was concentrating on a simple problem. He was 
observing an almost classic defense position. It was a good two hun- 
dred yards across that field to the woods on the crest. When he 
looked to his right he saw why the gun there had revealed its po- 
sition, because a handful of bodies lay sprawled in the open field. 
Then in his interest he raised his head too far — two inches higher 
and he would have been dead. Another machine gun had opened fire 
from the woods directly on his front. He lay flat with his face in the 
moist earth, but he had seen its flash near the trunk of a large oak 
tree and the fresh earth of the emplacement. 

"It's right up there," he said. 

"You ought to know, sir," the sergeant answered, and they crawled 
back to the platoon. 

Just then a runner came with word that Lieutenant Johnson 


wanted to see him. Even in this short interval everything had been 
moving up behind them until the woods were jammed with troops. 
Lieutenant Johnson was talking to a freckled, sandy-haired major 
who, Melville guessed, would be the battalion commander. Lieu- 
tenant Goodwin saluted smartly. 

"Never mind that now," the major said. "Who's this officer, 

"He just came up last night, sir," the lieutenant answered. "I 
can't remember his name." 

"Well, a name helps," the major said, and he turned to Melville. 
"What is it?" 

"It's Goodwin, sir." 

"All right," the major said. "What have you stopped for, Mr. 
Goodwin, are you tired?" 

Melville reported the situation quickly and concisely. He was even 
able to take a pencil and paper and sketch the position in the major's 

"Very pretty," the major said. "Take me up there and show me 
the original. We can't wait here all day." 

They were faced with the same old problem that cropped up in 
any battle, the balance of loss of life against the element of time. 
That light defense in front would be overrun eventually. The only 
question was how soon and at what cost. Obviously it was necessary 
to test the strength of the position before deciding whether or not 
to wait for heavy weapons. In a few minutes there must be an ap- 

That defense could have been brushed aside in modern war with 
its profusion of supporting weapons always close at hand, but in 
World War I the machine gun was still an ace that was hard to beat. 
With a few well-placed automatic weapons, a handful of enemy 
specialists who were willing to die could delay a whole division and 
snarl up the timetable. When you came to think of it, you had to 
admire those German gunners, left alone to hold up the advance. 
It took guts and devotion to duty, and you might as well face it — 
Germans were born soldiers. 

The plan was improvised right there in the woods. The attack was 


ordered along the regimental front and his platoon was in it. He had 
only time before the show started to find a haversack and fill it with 
four grenades, those stylized iron ones that looked like pineapples. 
He was to lead the platoon, of course, and he remembered that he 
was shaking — you often got involuntary shakes before a jump-off — 
but he was also conscious of a detached academic interest through 
the minutes of preparation. He had the sense to examine the con- 
tours of the slope ahead and to take note of a fold of ground about 
seventy-five yards in front that might afford some shelter. Beyond this 
he saw there was a depression, not a watercourse or even a gully, but 
still a depression that wound toward the tall oak on the hill. He could 
see the fresh earth of the gun emplacement on his front, and to the 
right he could see another. Haste had denied the Germans the re- 
finements of concealment, and luckily neither of those guns sup- 
ported the other perfectly — two facts which explained why he came 
through that attack alive. 

He pointed out the fold of ground to the sergeant and also the 
depression beyond it. When he told the platoon to follow him, his 
voice had an unwelcome quaver. He had often dreamed, both asleep 
and awake, of leading a real attack, but now that he was in motion, 
the ground was not solid and he seemed to move with exasperating 
slowness. Then he found himself flat on his belly behind that bulge 
of ground with half the platoon there with him. German machine 
guns had rather narrow traverses and they could not fire everywhere 
at once, and the gunners had no time to pick up the whole weapon 
in order to fire at a wider angle. This explained why half the platoon 
reached the shelter. 

As he lay there catching his breath, he saw that the whole advance 
had been checked halfway across the field. He could see the dead 
and wounded on the open ground and small pockets of the living 
pinned down by the fire. His platoon was out ahead and a glance at 
the woods behind him showed that the attack was not being pressed. 
His men lay in temporary safety, although bullets were gouging 
the crest in front of them. It might have been better judgment to 
have stayed pinned down instead of attempting to reach the depres- 
sion winding up the hill. He was not thinking in the least of himself, 


but only of the minor tactical problem. If they could wriggle up that 
hollow toward the oak tree, they might knock out the gun with gre- 
nades. It would have been more correct if he had balanced the 
chances, and he might as well admit it now that they were fifty to 
one against him, but his whole mind was focused on a single desire 
to get up the hill. There were twenty yards of open space between 
the rise that sheltered them and the winding hollow. 

"Follow me," he called. The Jerries did not quite catch him before 
•he reached the hollow. Only the sergeant and a private went with 
him. He never could blame the others for staying where they were. 

He would not try to describe that crawl up the hill. He could only 
admit that he was shot with luck and besides the nearer you got to 
an emplacement the harder it was to get you. When he reached the 
crest, he remembered rising to his knees with a grenade in his hand 
and pulling out the pin and seeing the newly dug earth and a Ger- 
man helmet. Then he threw the grenade and fell flat. He got up 
again directly after the explosion. He had hit the nest right on the 

"Come on," he heard himself calling, "come on." He had another 
grenade ready in his hand as he ran through the trees to the emplace- 
ment on the right. Perhaps he was two minutes in reaching it. He 
had no way of checking the time, but he came on it suddenly from 
the rear. The gun was firing, and its noise must have prevented any 
of the crew from hearing him. As he crouched behind a tree before 
tossing the grenade, he had a glimpse of the gray backs of the gun- 
ners. The air was full of dirt and stones and, the gun had stopped 
before he could throw another. The Germans who weren't dead were 
in a daze. There was one thing in particular he did not like to re- 
member — a German officer smeared with blood, staggering toward 
him with his hands above his head and then the sight of Sergeant 
Riley running him through with a bayonet. He could still remember 
his amateurish wonder at the sergeant's struggles to pull the bayonet 
out. Then it seemed as though everyone had followed him, not just 
the sergeant and the private. The attack had carried through. 

He grew accustomed to the sight of corpses later — since sudden 
death and mutilation were sequels to any action, and after all, war 


in itself was a grotesque abnormality — but this was his first day in 
a practical school. The mangled bodies of those Germans around 
their gun brought home to him, ail in a rush, the enormity of what 
he had been through, and a spasm of nausea swept over him. He 
staggered weak-kneed to a tree, leaned against it and retched. For- 
tunately there was nothing much to come up as his stomach had 
been empty for many hours. Though later he had seen other good 
men succumb to this and to more humiliating forms of bodily weak- 
ness, he could never quite forgive himself. It was all well enough to 
explain that exertion and emotion had put an undue strain on him. 
It was a mortifying anticlimax to find himself puking in front of 
troops. He had a frantic wish to crawl away somewhere with his 
seizure but there was never any privacy at a time like that. All he 
could do was to lean against the tree, shaking with the spasm. At any 
rate that was how the regimental commander found him, and later 
he had to admit that it made a good story at his own expense. 

H. J. Jeffers was commanding the regiment then. If you were in- 
terested in military bibliography, he was the same JefTers who had 
written a useful book, A Foot Soldier's Notes, which had been used 
in army schools before the war. Later, after the armistice, when the 
colonel once alluded to their meeting, at brigade headquarters mess, 
Melville was glad that he was able to laugh about it. 

He had been leaning against the tree only half conscious of what 
was being said or done around him when he heard a voice ask if 
this was the officer. Someone slapped him hard on the shoulder and 
told him to go on with what he was doing, that there was no hurry, 
and when he turned around, he saw that Colonel Jeffers, in a muddy 
trench coat, had been addressing him. Beside the colonel was a 
French officer in horizon blue, looking extraordinarily neat under 
the circumstances, and the major was also with them, and a few 
paces behind were some other officers. It was his good luck, of course, 
that the colonel and the Frenchman should have arrived at that par- 
ticular time. 

When he saluted, his diaphragm and intestines were still chasing 
each other inside him. 

"Fm sorry, sir," he said. 


"That's all right," the colonel said, "quite all right, Lieutenant. 
What did you say his name was, Major?" 

"He told me but I've forgotten, sir," the major said. "He just came 
up last night . . . but it ought to be Frank Merriwell." 

As soon as the colonel laughed, everyone else joined him hastily 
and the joke settled Melville's stomach. There was nothing like a 
joke at a time like that. Later it always reminded him of a line in 
What Price Glory. 

"Who is it," the Frenchman asked slowly, "this Frank Merriwell?" 

"He's an American folk hero," the major said. 

"Oh la-la," the Frenchman said, and everybody laughed again. 
Nothing ever sounded right in French. 

"Sergeant," the major called. "Where's the sergeant? Come here, 

Melville found himself standing with the sergeant as though they 
were two schoolboys led out before the class, and of course the major 
was vicariously pleased. 

"This is Sergeant Riley, sir," the major said, "Second Platoon, 
C Company. Tell the colonel what you told me, Sergeant." 

The sergeant was an old-timer but he was also overwrought. 

"No crapping, sir," the sergeant said, "the lieutenant got the both 
of them." 

Then Melville found his voice. 

"There was a private with us, too, sir," he said. 

"Jackson, sir," the sergeant said. "He's dead." 

The colonel pulled a notebook from his pocket. Melville remem- 
bered that he had to hold it almost at arm's length because of the 
farsightedness that comes with middle age. 

"What's your name, Lieutenant?" the colonel asked. 

"Goodwin, sir," he answered, "Melville A. Goodwin." 

"What's your class at the Point?" He had noticed Melville's ring. 

"Nineteen-nineteen, sir," Melville said, "but we graduated this 

"Do you feel all right now?" 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"Then walk along with us, Mr. Goodwin. We'd better catch up 


with things. This is Captain Bouchet, and we don't want Captain 
Bouchet to tell his general that we're loafing around here." 

There was a gentle undercurrent of appreciative merriment. 

"It is a pleasure to meet the lieutenant," the Frenchman 3aid. 

There was no use trying to imitate his accent, but those French 
liaison officers were all smooth and hand-picked for the job of estab- 
lishing cordial relations. It was only good luck that the captain was 
there, itching to pass out Croix de guerres. Melville never knew until 
later that he was getting the Distinguished Service Cross out of it, 
too. He was pretty hot that day; it was all good luck. 

On the other hand, there weren't any colonels or Frenchmen 
around to see him when he led a patrol across the Vesle River and 
returned with sixteen German prisoners. No medal except a Purple 
Heart was passed out when he got his bayonet wound in the Bois 
des Rappes. Actually both those occasions had demanded more in 
the departments of skill and guts and leadership than that episode 
in the Chateau-Thierry salient. Further, he had seen a lot of others, 
both officers and enlisted men, who had done more than he ever had 
beyond the call of duty, without even getting a word of commenda- 
tion. He was luckier than a great many others, and that was about 
all there was to say. From his experience many soldiers who did most 
said the least, and he had described that episode only to give a tactical 

His service in France had taught him that he was adequate ac- 
cording to certain standards, and from the very beginning he had 
loved the life. He had been right when he had followed that parade 
in Nashua. He loved marching columns and pup tents and foxholes, 
and he loved to serve with troops. He never forgot the lessons he had 
learned in World War I about team play and the soldier. He had 
learned how to speak the enlisted man's language, and he could 
speak it still. He learned to get the best out of troops simply by let- 
ting them know that he placed their physical comfort and safety 
above his own and making them learn that he would never order 
them to do anything he would not do himself. In many ways en- 
listed men were a lot of kids. He was never bored with fussing over 
their food and equipment. Any little thing you could do for them, 


such as talking over their home problems or their gripes, paid divi- 
dends. Right now he could still make a good estimate of soldiers 
because of his experience in France. They were in the end the raw 
material with which you had to work. 

Everyone, of course, had his own theories about bravery, an ab- 
stract quality which he had heard discussed interminably during 
his years in the service. Bravery, he was sure, was not a constant 
attribute but one which changed from day to day under varying 
climates of leadership. In the final analysis, willingness to face death 
and to toss one's life into the scales in order to achieve a result de- 
pended on pride and conviction. There were two kinds of pride, one 
that emanated from position and responsibility, which training could 
develop, and the other, greater pride that had its roots in loyalty to 
the outfit. If your unit was a good team whose members believed in 
themselves and their leader, death became preferable to letting down 
the crowd. You could take your outfit anywhere, and you would 
even be reluctant to stay behind as long as you could put one foot 
in front of the other. In the end personal courage depended almost 
exclusively upon mass emotion. You could do anything if you had 
a good team, though in the beginning you had to sometimes show 
the boys the way. 

There had been a lot of time to think while he lay in the hos- 
pital, and he had gathered enough ideas so that he was neither rest- 
less nor lonely. He had been indoctrinated with the theories of of- 
fense and defense, but he began to think seriously about weight of 
fire power. He never forgot the columns of cavalry he saw on the 
road from Chateau-Thierry, pathetically waiting for a chance for 
action that never came. He knew, without anyone's telling him, that 
cavalry was on the way out, in the face of automatic weapons; and 
he would never forget the thrill he experienced when he first saw a 
line of tanks clanking through a French village toward the front. 
They were ponderous vehicles and they did not have the power next 
day to get them where they should, but unlike a lot of young fel- 
lows around him, he never discounted the potential of the tank in a 
future war. The Germans knew it, by God, better than the British, 
who invented tanks. As General Forrest had so aptly said, the secret 


of war lay in gittin* thar fastest with the mostest. He was already 
thinking of combinations of fire power when he lay in the base hos- 
pital before he went to convalesce on the Riviera. Of course other 
men were also thinking, and abler men than he, in English and 
French and German — but the armistice was signed while he was on 
the Riviera, and an era was ended. 

Lieutenant Goodwin was with the Army of Occupation for a 
while at Coblenz but he was detached and sent home as a casual 
officer from Brest in June 1919, and it was only later that it struck 
him that his experience in France had suffered certain limitations. 
Often in the vears between the wars, when he heard officers discuss- 
ing their leaves in Paris and the wine and the women and the sights 
of France, he was surprised at how little he could contribute to this 
sort of conversation. He had hardly looked at a cathedral or a French 
chateau except through field glasses. While others had enjoyed them- 
selves, he had either been at the front or in base hospitals. He had 
never learned the difference between Burgundy and Vouvray. All 
his pay went home. Even when he was convalescing at that swell 
hotel in Cannes, he did not have the money to go on parties with 
the Red Cross girls and the nurses — and besides, there was always 

He still remembered clearly one illustrative incident. Late one 
afternoon in November, after the armistice, he had gone on a walk 
by himself through Cannes to exercise his leg, which was still stiff, 
though he no longer needed a cane. He was trying not to limp and 
though he looked somewhat shabby compared to the aviators, a 
French girl spoke to him, a pale, hungry-looking girl. She spoke 
loudly and slowly as the French sometimes did to a foreigner. 

"Vous etes tres chic, mon lieutenant" she said. 

He had to turn the words over painfully in his mind, and his an- 
swer was like a tough recitation at the Point. 

"Non" he said, "je ne suis pas chic." 

"Le lieutenant est blessed she said. 

"Oui" he said, "je suis blesse" 

"Mais pas malade" she said. 

"Non" he said, "bonne sante" 


It was like walking in a labyrinth, trying to pick up the words, 
and he was pleased that he remembered the phrase for "good health." 

"Voulez-vous venir avec moi?" she asked. 

The implication of the question escaped him entirely because of 
his mental efforts at translation, so she patted his arm playfully. 

"Vous et moi," she said, and raised two fingers in front of him, 
"ma chambre, cognac, pas loin d'ici" 

He still did not know what it was all about until she spoke again 
more loudly. 

"L ' amour T she said, "couchez avec moi" 

He never forgot his feeling of embarrassed confusion. In many 
ways it was worse than being under shellfire, and to make it still 
worse, there was the problem of answering in French. 

"Mais je ne veux pas, mademoiselle," he said. 

It was funny as he looked back on it but it was not humorous at 
the time because he had sense enough to know that he was not han- 
dling the situation correctly. 

"La-la," she said, "monsieur est serieux" 

He liked to remember that she had been neither angry nor con- 
temptuous. On the contrary, she was very nice about it and he never 
forgot what she said before she left him. 

"It is a pity always to be serious when one is young." 

Perhaps she had been right. Perhaps she had known more about 
life than he. Sometimes he wished that he had relaxed a little more 
in a civilian way when he was young. Perhaps he should have 
thought more of picture galleries and architecture. Perhaps he should 
have listened to music, but the only music he liked then was band 
music and the notes of the bugle at retreat. 

He was glad that he was a part of the real army. The others who 
had swelled the ranks were like water in a sponge, which was being 
squeezed as hard and as fast as the management could arrange it. 
He returned to the States on an antiquated passenger ship filled ex- 
clusively with other unattached officers from every branch of the 
service, most of whom hoped to leave the service as soon as they 
got across, particularly the junior officers. The war was over and to 
hell with the army. 


In many ways Melville Goodwin learned more about personnel 
from those ten days at sea than he had in the front lines. The ship 
was so crowded that only officers of field rank were in first-class 
quarters, and the juniors were in the steerage. He would stand on 
the forward deck in good weather and watch those higher officers 
on the promenade, while below in the steerage he was in a mass 
of totally undisciplined young college graduates from every state in 
the union, all of whom were fed to the teeth. He was the only West 
Pointer in that crowd, and he was shocked at the things those others 
said about the army. 

There was a second lieutenant near him in the steerage, he re- 
membered, whose name was John J. Weather — a graduate of Yale, 
who lived in Westbury, Long Island. This Weather had come aboard 
with a dozen bottles of cognac in his bedding roll. He had a gold 
cigarette case and gold-backed hair brushes, and he and his crowd 
were always playing poker. One night Melville remembered seeing 
seven hundred dollars in the pot — on a blanket in the steerage — 
and when he spoke to Weather about the size of that pot later, 
Weather was frankly amused. 

"Listen, baby," Weather said, "where have you been all your life?'* 

It was an interesting question, because although they had talked 
for hours, neither of them could make his life exactly clear to the 
other. They had the same rank and that was all. Weather had not 
been in combat, but still he had called him "baby," and once Weather 
said that he ought to show him around. 

"You ought to learn about things, baby," Weather said, but of 
course as soon as they reached New York he forgot about showing 
him around. Weather and all his crowd disappeared in a golden 
haze. Melville never saw any of them again, but he remembered 
some of their strange codes. When he refused to get drunk and dis- 
orderly with Weather and his crowd, they all understood when he 
explained that he had to stay in the army, but they could not under- 
stand why he wanted to stay. 

"All you have to do," Weather said, "is to get out, and my old man 
will get you a job, baby." 

He did not know who the old man was and he never knew. He 


was only glad that he could not resign from the service, for he had 
a feeling that he was not equipped for that wild world outside. He 
remembered a single taste he had of it early on the morning that the 
ship steamed into New York Harbor. 

That morning a major general, the senior officer on board, ordered 
the lieutenants to assemble on the bow and addressed them from the 
promenade deck. He had a fine resonant voice and he needed it. 

"I have a word to say to you young officers," he shouted. "We are 
now coming into New York Harbor, and I know that you will all 
be anxious to see the Statue of Liberty." 

As the General paused a faint chorus of catcalls arose from the 
crowded deck. The officers had not enjoyed the steerage, but even so, 
Melville could not believe his ears, and perhaps the General could 
not either because he went right on. 

"You will all want to see the Statue of Liberty. This will mean 
that you will run simultaneously to the port side, and this may en- 
danger the ship." 

The young men around Melville Goodwin broke into a cheer, but 
the General's voice rose above it. 

"So all of you will stay below," the General shouted, "until we're 

It was not a sound or well-considered order. Still it was an order, 
and the reaction was amazing. It was as though a lid had been lifted 
from all suppression. Hundreds of voices were shouting back to the 
promenade deck telling a two-star general of the army to go to hell 
and what he could do with the Statue of Liberty. It was an interest- 
ing example of a complete breakdown of command. 

"That will do," the General shouted, "you are all under arrest." 

The General must have known that he could not court-martial sev- 
eral hundred officers now that the war was over. If you could not 
back up an order it was better not to give it. You had to be careful 
not to stick your neck out in the army, and the General's neck was 
out a mile. 

Major General Goodwin paused. Personally I was delighted by the 
anecdote and so was Philip Bentley. Both of us had identified our- 


selves completely with that crowd on board, and so had Miss Fine- 
holt, but Colonel Flax looked grave, and the General was not 

"That must have been quite a scene," Phil Bentley said. 

Melville Goodwin nodded slowly. 

"Yes," the General said, "I suppose it's funny to civilians." 

"Yes," I said, "it's pretty funny." 

"I suppose it is," the General said. "I have never looked at it in 
quite that way. I have often tried to figure what I'd have done if I 
had been the senior officer on that ship." 

"What would you have done?" Phil Bentley asked. 

The General still looked very grave. 

"Insubordination is not a joke," he said. "If I had been that officer 
I'd have got to know those kids personally in the first place. I'd 
have been down there in the steerage with them twice a day. Maybe 
I'd have played a little poker with them, I don't know, but there 
wouldn't have been that type of trouble." Suddenly the General 
smiled. "In a citizen army you've got to learn to compromise with 
civilians. We always try to do the best we can for you when you 
get into the army — but I wish there weren't so damn many of you!" 

We all smiled dutifully. 

Come to think of it, he said, there were a hell of a lot of civilians 
in New York. You wouldn't think there had been a war, in New 
York, and getting back was like landing on the moon. 

"What did you do when you landed?" Philip Bentley asked. 

"Why," the General said, "as soon as I could get to a telephone 
I called up Muriel, of course, and she said she'd come down to New 
York. I needed someone to lead me around who knew the ropes. 
I am still sort of confused alone in New York." 

"What did you do after you telephoned?" Phil Bentley asked. 

"After I telephoned," General Goodwin repeated, "I took a taxicab 
and went to the Waldorf and got a room and took a bath, and do 
you know what I did that night?" 

"No," Phil Bentley said. 

"Well, son," the General said, "I didn't do any of the things you 
might think I would. I strolled down to that shooting gallery on 


Sixth Avenue and knocked off all the God-damned pipes. It made 
me think of Muriel." 

The General rose from his armchair. It was late in the afternoon. 

"Let's break this up," he said. "Come on, Flax, let's go for a walk." 

Phil Bentley looked at me and took off his glasses and polished 
them. School had let out when the officers had left the library. 

"Do you feel the way I do?" Phil Bentley asked. 

"I wouldn't know," I told him. "How do you feel?" 

"Exactly as though I were in the God-damned army," Phil Bentley 
said. "I wish he didn't confuse me. Sometimes he sounds like the 
Rover Boys in Camp. He can't be as simple as he sounds." 

"I wouldn't say he was exactly a Rover Boy," I said. "He's a spe- 

"I know," Phil Bentley said, "and he's damn near perfect." 

"How do you mean 'perfect'?" I asked. 

"I suppose I mean the military mind," Phil Bentley said. "I wish 
I didn't anticipate every one of his reactions." Phil Bentley was still 
groping for something human or individual, and the General's life 
was not conducive to individuality. "I wish I could get it straight in 
my mind why in hell I should begin to like him." 

Miss Fineholt closed her notebook. 

"He's sort of cute," she said. "He's so clean-cut. It makes him sort 
of cute. I wish I had been there when he was shooting those pipes in 
New York." 



Just a Little Dutch Girl — with Her Finger in the Di\e 

Helen was reading upstairs in our dressing room and when I 
came in she asked me how everything was going. 

"Well," I said, "he's through World War I and he's back in New 

"Oh dear," Helen said, "maybe they'll still be here when we're 
fighting World War III." 

Helen's problem as a hostess seemed to me utterly unimportant. 
I was still thinking of the Horatio Alger success story I had been 
following — young Mel Goodwin, the hundred-per-cent American 
boy. The fresh-faced shavetail who had prematurely left West Point, 
young Goodwin at the front, knocking out those machine guns, the 
serious Goodwin at Cannes, recovering from his wound — all com- 
bined to make a juvenile hero; but there was something more. There 
was character behind those exploits, but then again was it character 
or simply a lack of imagination, or had he done these things simply 
because he was not familiar with other choices? No outsider could 
ever understand the drives of the armed services, any more than he 
could comprehend those of a dedicated monastic priest. 

"Sid," Helen said, "just how long are they going to stay?" 

Her question, of course, pulled me from my reverie. 

"It can't be much longer," I said. "Phil Bentley will cut this short. 
The trouble is, he's interested. You can't help being interested." 

"Oh dear," Helen said, "I hoped we could be alone over the week 

"You won't have to bother about anything," I told her. "Mrs. 
Goodwin's leaving for Washington tomorrow. I'll take her into town 
myself, and you can leave the rest of them alone." 


"You didn't tell me," Helen said. "Why do you have to go to 

I had forgotten. I had been so involved with Melville Goodwin 
that I had not told her of my telephone conversation with Dottie 

"If I don't have lunch with her," I told Helen, "she'll drop out 
here at any minute. You know Dottie. We can't let Bentley see her 
with the General." 

I did not mention my own concern about Gilbert Frary, because 
there was no immediate need to worry her. 

"What do you suppose she really wants to do about him?" Helen 

This was something I could not possibly have answered. 

"Well, anyway," she said, ". . . as long as she doesn't do any- 
thing about you." 

Women were always competitive. There was no reason at all why 
Dottie Peale and Helen should have liked each other, but Helen 
had always been very nice about her. All through that time she was 
nice about Dottie Peale, and the General, and me, and everything, 
and it must have demanded a lot of self-control. 

I was thinking next morning when Williams was putting Mrs. 
Goodwin's suitcase into the Cadillac, just before we left for New 
York, that the Goodwins had learned all the techniques of farewell. 
They had been saying good-by to each other through two wars and 
in the interim between, and they had learned how to do this offi- 
cially before an audience — half playfully, half seriously. 

"Good-by, Melly," Mrs. Goodwin said. "Now don't tell that Mr. 
Bentley anything you shouldn't, and call me up tonight." 

Melville Goodwin smiled at Helen and then at Mrs. Good- 

"Don't you worry any," he said. "I'm only going to tell him how 
the CO caught us skin-swimming at Moultrie. I never told you about 
that one, did I, Sid?" 

"Oh, Melly," Mrs. Goodwin said, "don't be so silly. Anyway it was 
almost dark." 


"Well, good-by, Muriel," the General said, "and don't seduce any 
of the Joint Chiefs before I get down. Remember, they've got a lot 
of private rooms in the Pentagon." 

"What about you?" Mrs. Goodwin said. "I don't know whether 
we ought to leave him alone here with Helen. Do you think we 
ought to, Sid?" 

It was all good clean fun and it showed that the Goodwins felt 
at home. When Mrs. Goodwin kissed Helen, she said she had never 
thought we could all get to be such friends so soon, and she said we 
must come to visit them just as soon as they found out where they 
were going to be. 

"You know, 1 can't wait," Mrs. Goodwin said when we started 
off together for the city, "for Mel and me to have a little place of 
our own somewhere after Mel retires. I can't wait to be settled some- 
where instead of always moving from one post to another. Army 
houses are all alike, you know, even the furniture." 

I told her that somehow I could not think of the General setded 
in a little house on retired pay and puttering about in a garden. 

"But everybody does, you know," she said. "Almost as soon as you 
get started in the service you begin to make retirement plans. That's 
why I bought my Chinese things in Tientsin, as part of a sort of 
hope chest, and Melville bought a beautiful writing table once in 
Charleston, not that he ever writes much. Then there are all his 
books. It's about time they stayed in one place, even though books 
don't count against the freight allowance when you move — and I 
wish you could see the lace napkins we bought in the Philippines 
and the Meissen china Melville found in Germany." 

Mrs. Goodwin was familiar with motor transport as well as with 
the art of making conversation. She took another washcloth from 
her handbag and began working on it. You never could tell, she 
said, what sort of car might be assigned to a general, and you would 
laugh, she said, about the way service wives went on about service 
cars. They were as watchful of quality in rolling stock as they were 
of their husbands' rank, but personally she made it a point never 
to bicker over transportation. There was enough bickering without 
this on an army post. The only time she ever complained was when 


by some mistake Melville was given an old Chevrolet and a major 
on the post was assigned a Buick. Melville had been a major him- 
self then, but Melville had the seniority. Mrs. Goodwin's hook moved 

"It's so nice to be driving to New York,'* she said, "instead of tak- 
ing a train, and you've been so generous, looking after Melville, Sid. 
I hope you don't mind my calling you Sid. I can't help thinking of 
you as one of the General's officers. I wish I could have been with 
you when the General was being interviewed. He seemed a little 
tired last night." 

"I should think he would have been," I said. 

"No one would notice it except me. I can always tell when he's 
tense, and he seemed worried about something last night." 

"Worried?" I repeated. 

Mrs. Goodwin glanced up. Though I looked carefully ahead at 
Williams's back, I could feel that she was watching me. 

"Melville says you are going to have lunch today with a mutual 
friend, a Mrs. Peale. He wrote to me about her from France. She's a 
writer or a publisher or something, isn't she? She sounds very in- 

"Yes, she's pretty interesting," I said. "We used to work on the 
same newspaper together once. That was before Dottie became a 

I could detect no change in her voice, no sharpness, no undue curi- 
osity, but I could still feel that she was watching me and not her 

"It's queer how seldom Melville gets on, really gets on, with 
people outside the service," she said. 

"I suppose it's because he leads a specialized sort of life," I an- 
swered. "Now personally I often find it hard to get on with people 
in the service." 

For some reason she seemed astonished and her voice grew 
warmer, and at least we were off the subject of Dottie Peale. 

"Why, you don't act that way at all," she said. "I always keep 
thinking you are in the service, and you get on so beautifully with 
Mel, but then of course you were an officer*" 


"Only by courtesy," I said, "but I did have to play around with the 

At least, I thought again, we were off the subject of Dottie Peale. 

"I hate that expression 'brass/" she said. "Sidney, don't you see 
we're really like everybody else?" 

Of course I could not tell her that they were not like everybody 
else — they could not be or else they would not have been big brass. 

"Back in World War I," I said — how small and antiquated that 
war had become, no longer the Great War, but simply World 
War I — "we were asking the General what he did when he landed 
in New York. He said he called you up in Hallowell." 

She remembered all of it very clearly. We were going down the 
Merritt Parkway, but Mrs. Melville Goodwin was leaving Hallowell 
for New York to become an army wife, and, watching her expres- 
sion, I could imagine how she must have looked. She must have 
looked both very competent and very pretty. 

"I wish you could have seen Mel," she said. "Of course I had his 
photograph. I could shut my eyes any time and see the picture of 
him, but it wasn't the same as Mel. No matter how much you love 
someone, you begin to forget about him after he's been away for a 
long time. Finally he half turns into a stranger and you wonder what 
he'll really be like and how much he may have changed. Then there 
was all that fighting and the wound and all that talk you heard every- 
where about Paris and girls in France ... it would make anyone 
afraid and unsure. 

"He looked taller to me, and of course all his class at the Point had 
been promoted to first lieutenants. He was in his overseas cap and 
his Sam Brown belt, and he had those ribbons and he had his hair 
cut short, just the way he wears it now. He looked a whole lot more 
like a soldier than anyone else in the Grand Central Station, but of 
course he had to, coming from the Point. As soon as I saw him I 
knew Mel was just the same. He always has been the same. We could 
always pick up things where we left them. Pie just said, 'Hi, Muriel,' 
and I said, 'Hi, Mel.' Then he told me we were going to have a 
month's leave and that then we were going to Fort Bailey. That was 
because of the medal. Everybody doesn't get to Bailey." 


"Where's Bailey?" I asked. 

"What?" she said. "Seriously, haven't you ever heard of Bailey? 
Why, whatever were you doing in the army, Sid?" 

"Not much," I said. 

"Well, that shows you weren't a line officer," she said. "Any line 
officer knows Bailey. It's where they used to have the small-arms 
school, out in Kansas." 

That was where the Goodwins started housekeeping, down toward 
the end of officers' row, because they did not rank much else. Officers' 
row looked over the parade ground, and there was a flower bed of 
begonias in front of the colonel's quarters, then came the officers' club 
with a star of elephant ears and salvia, and then the barracks. It was 
scorching hot in summer and miles av/ay from anywhere. You could 
hear the machine guns going every afternoon out on the range. Their 
quarters were in a double house with the Murphys next door — the 
"Slugger" Murphys. Slugger was in the class below Melville at the 
Point. He was the same Slugger Murphy I must have heard of in 
the Airborne. Lieutenant Colonel Crosby's wife had the rank because 
the post commandant was old Colonel Jones — "Jupiter" Jones, and 
he was a bachelor. Jupiter was his army nickname and I must have 
heard of him. Sometimes they called him "Arapaho" Jones because 
he had served in one of those last Indian wars when he was fresh out 
of the Point. 

I had never heard of Fort Bailey or of Slugger Murphy or of Colo- 
nel Jupiter Jones, but I was at Bailey with Muriel Goodwin on the 
way to New York and the Pennsylvania Station. Robert, their elder 
son, had been born there at Bailey, and then somehow we were back 
in Hallowell and she might have been telling me about that Sunday 
school picnic and everything else. 

I left her with a porter on the Pennsylvania side. 

"Good-by, Sid, dear," she said, and though I was startled when 
she called me "dear," I felt that I had known her for a long, long 

"Where to now, sir?" Williams asked me. 

It was ten minutes before cwelve but Dottie Peale had asked me to 
meet her at the office early. It was always a part of Dottie's stage 


effect to show off that office of hers at Peale House. Anyone going 
there was bound to realize that Dottie should be taken seriously. 

The Peale Publishing Company was what the book trade called "a 
fine old house" and sometimes "an old-line house." It published a 
sound backlog of textbooks and also a book called Mrs. Gosling's 
Cookery, which with occasional revisions had been a popular seller 
for fifty years — but the Peale money was only partially derived from 
this enterprise. It was a fine old house, but Henry Peak's grandfather 
had also been fortunate enough to invest his savings in Mr. Alexan- 
der Graham Bell's telephone and in Calumet and Hecla copper. 
Thus even by the time Henry Peale was seven years old there was no 
economic reason for the Peales to bother about printing books. 
Henry's father had been content to let the business limp along under 
the management of an unimaginative but conscientious executive 
named Mr. Royal, whom Dottie had never seen but whose name and 
career she had encountered when she had edited a brochure entitled 
One Hundred Years of Peale House. She was the one who had 
thought of calling it "Peale House," she told me once, shortly after 
she and Henry Peale were married. 

Henry's father had never cared for books and authors. Instead he 
had collected pictures of the French school, and a part of the Peale 
collection was now in the Metropolitan, together with his portrait by 
Sargent. He had also been interested in yachting, and his forty-footer, 
the Alexandra, named after Henry's mother, had done very well in 
ocean racing. The house on Seventy-second Street, as well as the 
house in the country, which Dottie had sold, had once been filled 
with the Alexandra' s silver trophies — mugs, cups and punch bowls, 
and, most spectacular of all, a two-foot figure of Neptune seated on 
a wave and blowing a conch horn — until Dottie had finally put 
them all away. 

Henry Peale, on the other hand, must always have been what was 
called "literary." It had never been possible for me to reconstruct all 
the details of his early life, which had been led along the elaborate 
lines common to wealthy boys who lived out their early manhood 
around the turn of the century, and I am reasonably sure that Dottie 


never understood much, about Henry's background either. He had 
been a shy, retiring, serious-minded boy, educated by private tutors 
until he went to Yale. His career at Yale must have been quiet, too, 
and he was always quiet when I knew him. As Dottie often said, it 
was very hard for Henry ever to get out of himself, and you had to 
know him a long while before you appreciated him. Personally I had 
not known him as long as that, having only seen him occasionally 
after he and Dottie were married. 

Though Henry Peale was in his fifties when he married Dottie, he 
looked much younger, and his face was unlined and youthful like the 
faces of other people who have led sheltered lives. In some ways, 
Dottie once told me, Henry had never grown up, but I had never 
asked her what those ways were. I only remembered him as being 
tall and rather frail, with a precise and gentle voice. I remember his 
laughing at Dottie's jokes, though I had the impression that he was 
not easily amused. He was very kind to me the few times I saw him, 
not on my account, I imagine, but because Dottie and I were old 
friends and because he was completely devoted to Dottie. He called 
her "Dot" I remember and once he told me that Dot had made him 
unimaginably happy and that he had never known there could be a 
girl like Dot. I did not understand how true this was until I learned 
more about his carefully insulated life. He never could have known 
that there was any girl like Dot except by the merest accident. 

He offered me a job once because Dottie must have asked him to. 
When we talked it over in his library on Seventy-second Street, I 
gained the impression that I would not like to work for him, not 
because he was disagreeable or arrogant but because he had no fixed 
ideas. When I was with him I was always puzzled and uneasy, and 
always wondering why on earth he had ever married Dottie or rather 
how Dottie had ever arranged it, but I could see why he liked the 
family publishing business. It was a sort of ivory tower for him — 
a plaything with which he could do what he wanted without worry- 
ing over the financial angle — and books with the Peale imprint al- 
ways had artistic distinction. His authors on the whole were devoted 
to him. He could afford to give them generous cash advances with- 
out a thought to manufacturing costs, and they must have loved 


dining with him at Seventy-second Street or spending week ends 
with him in the country. He had a reputation in the trade for sound 
editorial taste, though I imagine his assistant, Martin Dever, was the 
one who really picked the manuscripts — until Dottie finally took 
things over. 

When he met Dottie Peale, I was in Paris, and the whole thing 
was an accomplished fact when I came back to New York on leave 
from the Bureau. Consequently I never knew exactly how it hap- 
pened, and I was never sure that Dottie wished to be completely ac- 
curate when she explained. 

"Darling," she said, "I want you to be glad. I want you to under- 
stand that Henry needs me and I love him, and I want you to realize 
that money and everything like that had nothing whatsoever to do 
with it. I was just as surprised as you are right this minute when I 
encountered Henry's background, and I want you to get this straight. 
He proposed to me before I ever saw Seventy-second Street. He pro- 
posed to me one afternoon at the office after lunch during Book 
Afternoon Week, and money had nothing whatsoever to do with it. 
I want you to know that I'm in love with Henry. Darling, I under- 
stand what love is now. It's having things done ror you and doing 
things in return for someone you love. Henry needs me, darling, and 
besides you never did seriously think I'd sit around waiting, did you ? 
We were all clear on that, weren't we, before you went to Paris?" 

I told her that of course we were all clear on it and that everything 
was wonderful and that I was just as glad as she was. 

"Besides," she said, "I told you that the Paris Bureau was the kiss 
of death, and now Henry and I can get you out of it." 

I told her again never to mind about the Paris Bureau and that I 
thought everything was wonderful. 

"And, darling," she said, "you mustn't have an inferiority complex 
about anything. It hurts Henry, and it hurts me, too, when people 
think that money means a different way of life. God damn it, dar- 
ling, I'm just the same as I always was. I'm just a working girl in 
Henry's office, darling." 

I told her again that I thought it was wonderful and then I asked 
her to tell me just how it happened, how she first met Henry Peale 


and a few things along that line, but she was always vague whenever 
I asked her. 

"You needn't act so damned surprised," she said. "It happened be- 
cause it was meant to happen. We were always congenial. You'll see 
why when you get to know Henry better. He's a little like you, 
darling, except he's more malleable and has more common sense." 

I never did get to know Henry well enough to see in what way he 
resembled me, and I never knew what made them congenial except 
that Dottie wanted it to be that way, but I could see that she was 
happy and having a wonderful time. She was loyal, too, but then 
Dottie was always loyal. 

Martin Dever, after certain disagreements had caused him to leave 
Peale House, was the one who told me most about Dottie and Henry 
Peale, though in a prejudiced way, since he never had been partial 
to Dottie. Actually he was the one who introduced them, he said, and 
he was damned if he knew much after that. It had happened after 
I had gone abroad, when Dottie was on the book page of the paper, 
working for old Waldo Edgill. She was immensely valuable to Edg- 
ill because she did have a marvelous dexterity and she was superb 
at make-up. She could read enough of any new book in an hour or 
two to get the sense of it, and besides she liked writers. She was the 
one who helped Edgill spruce up the whole Sunday book section, 
and when it was suggested that the paper sponsor a series of book- 
and-author afternoons, Dottie was all prepared. This had not been 
old Edgill's idea, but a brainstorm from the business office to increase 
publishers' advertising. Edgill had hated it, so it was lucky for him 
that Dottie was on the page, because Dottie was the one who finally 
organized those teas. It was the beginning of the era of book fairs 
and book-and-author luncheons, and never having been to any of 
these gatherings I cannot imagine what the teas were like, but Dottie 
did everything, right down to helping the publishers drag authors 
to them. That was how she met Martin Dever. Then one morning 
when she was in Martin's office, Henry Peale came in. 

"That was all there was to it," Martin said. "He wanted to ask me 
about the design for a jacket, and Dottie said it ought to be plainer, 
and then he asked her into his office to look at alternate designs. 

3 o8 

They stayed alone in there for about half an hour and then they went 
out to lunch, and the next morning he asked me for Dottie's tele- 
phone number, and next he asked her to the theater, and so they 
got married." 

Martin did not know how it happened any more than I did. He 
could only say that directly after the honeymoon Dottie moved right 
in, taking over the office next to Henry's, and by God in a year she 
had taken over the whole damned editorial and production depart- 
ment. He did not want to criticize Dottie, because she was a friend 
of mine, but perhaps I knew what Dottie was like when she got 
started. He wouldn't say she was a bitch, because she was a friend of 
mine, and certainly she did not act like ordinary bitches. He could 
work for Peale — in fact he had run the whole editorial department 
for him and a good deal of everything else — but six months after 
Dottie showed up, there wasn't anything left for him to run. She 
had her finger in every pie. She was terribly sorry when he finally 
resigned. She begged him to stay and she felt his leaving was all her 

"Martin, darling," she had said, "you can't leave me all alone here 
with Henry. I'm just a little Dutch girl with my finger in the dike." 

He had to admit she was nice about it, and she was the one who 
got him the job in Philadelphia, and she had not done too badly 
when she was left alone with Henry. In fact she was able to do more 
with Henry than he ever could. In fact she was a very smart cookie 
and some day she would take over the entire business. That was all 
that Martin could tell me. No one would ever know exactly how 
Dottie happened to marry Henry Peale, but I always did think that 
Dottie could do anything she wanted when she put her mind on it. 

After Henry Peak's death, Dottie had moved the Peale House 
offices to a more modern building on Murray Hill, but she had not 
moved much of the accumulated decor with them. Dottie maintained 
that an office was a place in which you transacted business and not a 
place where you lounged and looked at antique furniture. After some 
of the offices I had seen lately, it was very agreeable to enter Peale 
House. The rooms were large, noiseproof and air-conditioned. The 
walls were painted in restful, unobtrusive tones. The equipment 


right down to the desk calendars was strictly functional and aggres- 
sively new. There were no comfortable libraries or directors' rooms, 
no coaches or overstuffed chairs and, curiously enough, very few 
books. The volumes on the current season's list stood on three shelves 
in the reception office, but other publications by the Peale House 
press — Dottie had bought a printing and binding plant after 
Henry's death — were efficiently locked in a storeroom. Dottie's own 
office in a corner of the building was just as austere as that of the 
other executives, with a gray steel desk, a gray carpet, a bare oval 
table and six gray upholstered chairs. There was nothing on her desk 
except a clock, a calendar and a blotter. I could not help comparing 
the place very favorably with the offices of the home decoration 
magazine on which Helen had once worked. 

There was no funny business about Dottie's secretary either. She 
was a plain girl with low heels and without any of the receptionist's 
manner, and she obviously had been told to show me right in, be- 
cause she appeared about thirty seconds after I had given my name 
at the front desk. As I looked around, she might have been ushering 
me into a tooth extractor's instead of into the inner sanctum of Peale 
House. Dottie was dressed in a severe gray tailored suit, softened 
only by a ruffle at the neck, like a man's neckcloth in an eighteenth- 
century portrait. She wore no rings or bracelets — no diverting orna- 
ments. She smiled at me brightly but she did not shake hands. 

"It's awfully kind of you to pick me up here, Sid," she said. "You 
won't mind waiting a minute, will you, until I finish one piece of 
business? Sit down by the conference table. Miss Strode, will you 
please bring Mr. Skelton some cigarettes and an ash tray?" She gave 
me a winning smile. "We don't smoke at Peale House as a rule, but 
you can be an exception." 

"Why, thanks a lot," I said. 

"I won't keep you waiting more than a minute," Dottie said. 
"Miss Strode, will you tell Mr. Taylor I'm ready to see him now with 
that paper sample." 

I knew that Dottie would not keep me more than a minute, if she 
said so, and I also knew that she had asked me there to impress me, 
out of habit and not because it was necessary. 


"What are you laughing at?" she asked when Miss Strode closed 
the door. 

"Nothing," I told her, "just hysteria." 

"Darling," Dottie said, "don't be so damned funny. You can be 
funny at luncheon but not at Peale House." 

It was really quite a show. Miss Strode returned with an ash tray, 
matches and a package of cigarettes, and behind her came a youngish 
man in a double-breasted suit carrying a sample of paper. 

"Oh, Mr. Taylor," Dottie said, "you see what I mean, don't you, 
when you hold it to the light?" 

"Yes, Mrs. Peale," Mr. Taylor said, "you were perfectly right about 
it, and Mr. Jennings has checked." 

"Good," Dottie said. "Be sure to get Mr. Harris himself on the 
telephone. . . . Oh, have you ever met Mr. Sidney Skelton, Mr. 

"Why, no," Mr. Taylor said, "but I've often enjoyed hearing him. 
How do you do, Mr. Skelton." 

"You might call me up at home and tell me what Harris says," 
Dottie told him. "There isn't anything else, is there, Miss Strode?" 

"No, Mrs. Peale," Miss Strode said. "I'll call you if anything comes 


When Miss Strode closed the door behind her again, Dottie gig- 
gled suddenly, as though we were children. 

"Darling," she said, "you must admit I make them snap into 
it. . . . We might as well be leaving now. Bernard and the car are 
waiting. Shall we have my Bernard take us uptown? Or shall we 
have your Williams? . . . What are you laughing at now?" 

"You know damned well what I'm laughing at," I said. 

She walked around the desk and put her arm through mine. 

"No man can be a hero to his valet, Dot," I said. 

"Darling," she told me, "I am really not preposterous. I don't 
know why I always like it when you think I am." 

"Because I always have," I said. "It goes with the Chanel Five." 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "I wonder why we never got married." 

I looked at her and looked around the room. 

"You know damned well why," I said. 


"Yes," she said, "oh yes, I know, but we do get on so well together, 
don't we? We don't have to pretend anything. All the cards are on 
the table." 

It was true that there never had been any make-believe, at least 
not for a long, long time. She walked toward the door and glanced 
at me over her shoulder. 

"God," she said, "it's nice to see you, darling." 

And I was glad to see Dottie, too. I had forgotten what good 
friends we were, and that there were no friends like old friends — 
with occasional reservations. 



No Mothers to Guide Them 

I had seen very little of Dottie since her marriage to Henry Peale 
and, except for that war trip overseas, very little of her after Henry 
Peak's death. When you stepped very suddenly from one category 
to another, you did not always have the capacity for bringing old 
friends with you. You no longer had the former common interests, 
or even the same kind of money. However, having found myself in 
ascending circumstances during the last two years, I could sympa- 
thize with Dottie's problems more than I had a year or so before. 
They were still more complex than mine, but now I, too, had been 
thrust unexpectedly into a style of life to which I was not accus- 

It was preposterous to think of descending from my Cadillac, even 
if it was a company car, and walking with Dottie into the Peale 
residence and hearing Dottie say "Hello, Albert'* to her butler. When 
the door closed behind us, I was thinking that we were in a larger, 
more complicated version of Savin Hill. We were both interlopers, 
not legally but spiritually. We were both intelligent enough not to 
make fools of ourselves, but still we did not belong. In the end we 
could only do the best we could, as other boys and girls do when 
they try to get ahead. Other poor girls had married wealthy husbands 
and other poor boys still came into the chips rapidly in some way or 
another. This, as they still said over the air, was America. 

The house had been built in the early nineteen-hundreds along 
those pseudo-English, pseudo-baronial lines that were popular in the 
days when Robert W. Chambers wrote The Danger Mar\ and The 
Fighting Chance, and when the gay young blades quafTed cham- 
pagne from the slippers of the girls of their choice and white doves 
were occasionally released at banquets at Delmonico's. The house 


had a frontage of at least thirty feet. The entrance hall was paved 
with marble. A dark oak double staircase swept upward. In one 
gloomy corner, near the door through which Albert the butler had 
retired with my hat and topcoat, was a suit of armor on a pedestal. 
I had never seen one of those things outside of a museum, except 
once, in an English country house during the war, but in the Peale 
house it looked moderately appropriate. 

I had never made any comment on the house to Dottie because 
there had always been Henry Peale or company when I had been 
there before, but now I felt impelled to whistle softly in a slighdy 
vulgar way. 

"All right," Dottie said, "all right. What about that little shack of 
yours in Connecticut?" 

"It isn't quite the same," I said. 

"No," Dottie said, "it isn't but it's the same in principle. Darling, 
I can't help it. There's an income from a special trust fund run- 
ning it." 

"Don't apologize," I said, "don't exhibit social guilt." 

"Oh shut up," Dottie said. "We might as well take the elevator up 
to my study. I don't believe you've ever seen it, have you ? I did over 
the top floor after Henry died. I spend most of my time there when 
I'm not entertaining." 

Of course there was an elevator, one of those automatic lifts with 
a row of electric buttons. When the door closed, she looked up at me. 

"Sid," she said, "do you remember?" 

"Yes," I answered, and I remembered that I had kissed her in that 
elevator when I had first dined there during the time I had been 
recalled for a month from the Paris Bureau. 

"Sid," she said, "I really think just to be polite . . ." and she turned 
her cheek toward me. "Darling, I'm awfully glad to see you." 

I had not seen Dottie's study. Nothing else in the house had ever 
looked like her, but the study did. Everything was in its place and 
there was a place for everything. The rear windows opened on a 
little terrace with a row of potted fir trees along its railing. The cur- 
tains were yellow brocade, and there were Chinese carpets and a sofa 
in front of the fireplace and a desk with her typewriter and sharp- 


ened pencils and all her favorite books along the walls — and two 
very good Renoirs. She had always liked Renoir because, as she said, 
Renoir's people were always having such a happy time. 

"Sid," she asked me, "does it remind you of anything? I mean the 
fireplace and the sofa and the books and the typewriter." 

"You mean your place in the Village?" I asked her. 

"Don't you think it's like it?" she said. "Do you remember how 
you used to wait for me when I changed before we went out some- 

I could see what she meant. Her general taste had not changed, 
and it was a little like her two-room apartment in the Village only 
vastly larger. 

"Well," she said, "pour yourself a drink — everything's over there 
on the table — and sit down. My room's in front and I'm going to 
put on another dress, but I'll leave the door open." 

It was a little like her old apartment in the Village and I also 
thought of the suite at the Ritz in Paris when I heard Dottie whis- 
tling in her bedroom. 

"Darling," Dottie called, "are you all right?" 

"Yes," I said, "I'm fine" and then she went on whistling. 

"Maybe you'd better take sherry," she called, "we're going to have 
champagne at lunch," and then I heard her swear. 

"What is it?" I called back. 

It was only a run in her God-damned stocking but she would be 
finished in a minute. It was almost like old times, almost but not 

I never thought until I heard her whistling, what a difficult time 
she must have had at first being Mrs. Henry Peale. I had only 
thought before how well she had succeeded. She had told me once 
that Henry's family and friends had been very kind to her on the 
whole — as people were when obliged to make the best of an accom- 
plished fact. They had never thought that Henry would marry, at 
least not so suddenly, but now that they saw her they said they could 
understand why he had, and they were so glad that Henry was 
happy, and now that Dottie was making Henry so happy, perhaps 
she could be on some of the family's charitable committees. Well, as 


she told me once, she was still on some of those committees. Never- 
theless she had to face the fact that she had always felt gauche with 
Henry's family and friends and that basically she was shy. She sim- 
ply did not fit. Yet on the whole she had succeeded with them. She 
had accomplished this through the book business, which was a world 
in itself, what with publishers and authors, and then there were her 
theater friends. The Peale family finally had liked to be asked to her 
Sunday supper parties, now that she knew everyone or almost every- 
one. Dottie had always been quite a girl. 

I sat there waiting, under the illusion that I was younger and still 
working on the paper, and that there were no broadcasts and no 
Helen or Camilla, which I am sure was the effect that Dottie desired. 
It was as if everything we had gone through were still in the future 
when she came back into the room. She was wearing a purple dress 
and a gold bracelet and a topaz pin. She did not look at all as though 
she were nearly forty. The blatantly unobtrusive cut of the dress in- 
dicated that it had been made for her and that it had probably cost 
about three hundred dollars. She sat down on the sofa beside me 
with that prim sort of schoolgirl posture that I remembered from the 
days on the paper. For a moment, though of course it did not last, 
we were a boy and girl together, at the end of a working day, and I 
thought of the song "What street compares with Mott Street in 
July?'* even though it was late October. 

"Darling," she said, "it's just like old times, isn't it? Snap out of it 
and get me some sherry." 

Of course I knew Dottie well enough to know that she was con- 
sciously setting this scene of old friendship and of enduring con- 
geniality because she wanted something from me. It would not be 
anything tangible, I knew, since she had everything in that line she 
desired. It would be something more in the nature of affirmation, of 
sympathy and support. Though I could begin to make guesses al- 
ready, it was entertaining and instructive to watch her create the 
setting. She did it so well, in fact, that occasionally I honestly be- 
lieved that she simply wanted to see me, and this may have been 
partially true. 

She had always understood men better than women. When she 


wanted, she was like a dancer who could follow any lead, conform- 
ing without the least apparent effort to any taste or intellect. I had 
forgotten how utterly entrancing she could be if she wanted or how 
much she knew about things that interested me. She knew the 
broadcasting world a good deal better than I did, and she had some 
very good anecdotes about Soviet diplomats and domestic politics. 
I was reasonably sure that she did not listen to my broadcast every 
evening, but she gave the impression of having followed it consist- 
ently. She knew Art Hertz, and she felt just as I did about Art — 
that it was wise to talk things over with him carefully before he 
started on the script — and she knew Gilbert Frary, and she could 
imitate him perfectly. She even knew that new phrase of his, "with- 
out the slightest ambiguity," and then she used one of her own which 
I had not heard before. 

"I wish you wouldn't keep saying it's only your voice," she said. 
"I always knew you could get somewhere if you ever wanted to. 
You're better than all the rest of them, because you have more de- 
veloped mental capacity." 

That was quite a phrase, developed mental capacity, something you 
could take or leave. She laughed when I told her it didn't mean any- 
thing at all. 

"Darling," she said, "you still don't know much about women, do 
you? You don't know how happy a woman is to be wrong, really 
wrong, if someone she's fond of proves she's wrong. I'm so happy 
that I was wrong about you, Sid. It makes me respect you so much, 
and there are so few people I can respect. It used to make me furi- 
ous when I thought you were wasting your time, but everything 
you did was subconsciously right, and here you are. That's what I 
mean by developed mental capacity." 

She sat on the sofa with her feet curled under her and shook her 
head and smiled at me wistfully. 

"I know I missed the boat," she said, "but still it makes me feel 
proud. I'm a little envious, too, when I see you and Helen together, 
but not in a mean way, darling. I keep wanting to help you still. You 
know how I used to try, and God, you were exasperating. Sid, I wish 
you'd admit something." 


"I'll admit that you Ve always wanted to help some man," I said, 
"but then most women do." 

"Darling," she said, "that's perfectly true, and the awful thing 
about it all is that I've never been able to help anybody except per- 
haps poor Henry. I wish you'd just admit that I could have done a 
lot for you. Please admit it, Sid." 

She looked at me in her most appealing schoolgirl way. She had 
her chronology somewhat mixed but not entirely. She seemed to have 
forgotten how long she had been married to Henry Peale, and I 
might have reminded her that after Henry's death she had not tried 
in the least to help me. Instead, she dropped me like a hot potato. I 
was a failure without a future in those days. 

"Why, yes," I said, "of course you could have helped me, Dot." 

"Thank God you admit something sometime," she said. "Sid, it's 
queer, isn't it, that nothing changes when we see each other?" 

Being with her had always been like a game, but now I could 
watch her playing it, unemotionally, as though I were an observer at 
a conference. I knew that she had manipulated our conversation ex- 
actly as she had wanted. She had talked about me, and herself and 
me, and now we were going to talk about her. 

"Now just a minute, Dot," I said, "before I forget to ask you. 
Didn't you say over the telephone that you were worried about Gil- 
bert Frary and me, or something along those lines?" 

Dottie assumed an expression that was partly cryptic and partly 

"Oh dear," she said, "I wouldn't have dreamed of saying that if 
I had thought you were going to mull over it. Did it really bother 
you, darling?" 

"Not much," I said, "but you probably wanted it to, didn't you?" 

Dottie's cryptic expression changed and she looked delighted. 

"Of course I wanted you to be worried," she said, "because I 
wanted to be sure you'd come to see me. There really wasn't any- 
thing else, but it is interesting if you feel a little uncertain about 

"Are you sure that's all?" I asked. 

"Well, darling," she said, "you know how I'm able to sense things 


and how interested I always will be in you. When I think of you and 
Gilbert, I sometimes get intuitively worried, but I haven't really 
heard anything at all in any whispering gallery, and now that I've 
talked to you about the program, I know everything's in order, and 
I'm so glad. Let's forget it." 

I was relieved that I had been right — that she had nothing to tell 
me that I didn't know. 

"All right, he does disturb me sometimes,'* I said — "but let's for- 
get it." 

"Still if anything ever should come up — anything like a break 
with Gilbert — you'll promise to come right to me, won't you, dar- 
ling?" Dottie said. "You know how dreadfully happy I'd be to help 
in any little way. Darling, I wish I didn't feel so unfulfilled. It's a 
most terrible feeling. I suppose I'm spoiled. I suppose I've always got 
everything I've wanted." 

There was a discreet knock on the study door. 

"Oh, hell," she said, "there's Albert with our lunch." 

"That's tough," I said, "just when you were getting somewhere 
after all this build-up." 

"Oh, what's the use," Dottie said, "in trying to be fascinating with 
you? I wish to God you didn't know so much about me. Anyway, 
it's going to be a damned good lunch, and we're going to have cham- 

"Then we'll pick it up where you left off," I said. "We'll just re- 
member, you're feeling unfulfilled." 

Dottie glanced at me and shrugged her shoulders. 

"All right," she said. "Just remember you couldn't have ever ful- 
filled me. If you want to wash, you can use my bathroom in there. 
Come in, Albert." 

Obviously Dottie preferred having her meals in her study, and 1 
did not blame her after what I remembered of the dining room 
downstairs. Albert the butler and a maid came in, pushing tables on 
wheels like room service in a hotel, and they knew exactly how to 
turn one end of the room into a little dining alcove. Albert opened the 
champagne and took the tops oflf the lacquer soup bowls, and then 
Dottie told stories about the State Department until Albert asked if 


there were anything more and went away. It was a simple luncheon 
but it was very good — clear soup and squab and mixed green salad 
and Camembert cheese and coffee. 

"I hope it's what you wanted," Dottie said. "I know you don't like 
much in the middle of the day. If you're finished, let's take the 
champagne over to the sofa. Do you remember the first time we ever 
drank champagne?" 

"Yes," I said. 

"I remember how it tickled my nose," Dottie said. "It made me 
awfully silly," and she giggled. 

"No it didn't," I said. "Nothing ever made you silly." Suddenly 
I felt impatient. "Come on, Dot," I said, "let's get down to what you 
want to talk about. Why don't you tell me why you wanted to see 

Dottie put down her champagne glass on the coffee table and sat 
up straighter. 

"Now, Sid," she said, "that isn't fair. You know I always love to 
see you, and we see so little of each other, but . . . well, all right. 
. . . Tell me about Mel Goodwin, Sid. Has he asked about me?" 

"I told you he had," I said. "Why shouldn't he?" 

"Oh, all right," Dottie said, "tell me some more about him. Tell 
me how he looks." 

"He looks about the way he did in Paris," I said, "but you've seen 
his pictures in the papers, haven't you?" 

"I mean does he look well?" Dottie said. "Does he look happy?" 

"Didn't he look happy in the pictures?" I asked her. 

Dottie shook her head impatiently. 

"Darling," she said, "I know exactly what you're thinking and I 
know you don't approve, but it's none of your business, is it, really ? 
I wish you wouldn't act like a buffer state and pretend you're so 
damn conventional. You know you can't stop my doing anything I 
want and at the same time you're the only one I can talk to about 
this. Darling, I really have to talk to someone. Why is it you don't 
approve of my seeing Mel Goodwin?" 

We were getting down to plain facts at last, and I always liked 

Dottie when she was facing facts. 


"Because I think it might upset him unnecessarily," I said. "I 
know it's none of my business, Dot, except I rather like him." 

Dottie pushed a strand of hair back from her forehead. 

"Pour me some champagne, will you, Sid?" she said. "That's 
right. Thank you, darling. . . . That's what I wanted to know. 
I wasn't sure. . . . I'm awfully glad he still feels that way about 

"Oh, my God," I said. 

Dottie smiled and took a swallow of her champagne. 

"Why don't you pull up your socks, darling?" she said. "Your at- 
titude really makes me a little annoyed. I wish you'd think about me 
just a little, Sid. Look at me. Can't you — a little?" 

We both looked at each other for a moment without speaking. 

"Listen, Dot," I said, "what else have I been doing?" 

"Really, Sid," Dottie said, "you haven't really thought about me 
for years. If you had you'd know how little I really have in my life. 
I don't mean materially. To hell with material things! I'm pretty 
sick of materialism." 

"Since when did you begin getting sick?" I asked. 

"All right," Dottie said, "be nasty if you want to, but at least you 
might try to think of me. I know you're fond of me — don't say you 
aren't. Damn it, I was thinking of you the other night and I ended 
up by taking a Nembutal." 

"Now wait a minute," I said, "don't get me mixed up with Mel 

"Don't be so pleased with your own humor," Dottie said. "I wasn't 
thinking of you in that way. I was only thinking you have every- 
thing I've always wanted. You're married, you have a home and 

"A child," I said, "not children." 

"All right," she said, "a child, and you don't deserve to have one. 
You don't know what it means." 

"Well," I said, "if I don't, you don't either. Since when did you 
start liking children, Dot?" 

Suddenly Dottie began to cry. It was something I had not expected, 
and I was quite sure that she had not expected it either. 

3 21 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "can't you see I haven't anything? Damn it, I 
haven't even got you." 

I would have laughed if she had not been crying. It was exactly 
like her not to have wanted something when she could have had it 
and then to end by regretting that she had not wanted it. It was like 
the ending of a rather badly written story to be there with Dottie 
Peale and to have her sobbing on my shoulder. 

"Oh, God," she said, "oh, God," and for once I knew she was not 
using the name of the Lord in vain. I could not think of anything 
consoling to say and I patted her softly on the back. 

"Oh, God," she said again, "I'm so sick of always thinking about 

"Dot," I told her, "everybody has to most of the time." 

It was curious. She was tired of thinking about herself, and yet this 
was exactly what she continued doing as she lay against my shoulder 

I found myself recalling a poem of Hilaire Belloc's in his Caution- 
ary Tales — the one about the mischievous little girl who kept call- 
ing the firemen for fun, and finally, when she was actually being 
consumed by flames and shouted "fire," they only answered "little 
liar." On the other hand, her saying that she had nothing left, not 
even me, though personally annoying, had a ring of complete verac- 
ity, and I was glad that my reaction was close to complacency. I 
wished Helen could see how well I was behaving under the circum- 

Dottie was not wholly responsible for what had happened to her. 
She was the finished product of a new age of competitive women 
and of a feministic epoch. There were no precedents and no rules in 
this new competitive arena, where bright girls were taught to invade 
all sorts of fields of endeavor that were once reserved for men. There 
had been Becky Sharpes at the time of William Makepeace Thack- 
eray, but they had been creatures of convention, and there were no 
conventions now. The town was full of Dottie Peales, and female 
institutions of learning were turning out more of them annually, and 
the feminine periodicals were telling them what to wear in the way 
of girdles and nylons, even down to what scents they should select 


to bring them victory. The town was full of Dottie Peaks, and there 
was no reason for them not to have been confused in their values 
because they had to get along as best they could and they had no 
mothers to guide them — or at least the guidance of their mothers 
was very seldom useful. I hoped she did not know that I was sorry 
for her in such a detached way, but of course she did know. 

"Stop pounding my back,*' she said. "I'm not asking you to be 
sorry for me. I'm only asking you to be kind." 

"Now, Dottie," I said, "how can I be kind unless I'm sorry?" 

"Oh, nuts!" Dottie said, and she blew her nose. "Stop sitting here 
humiliating me." 

"I don't see how I'm humiliating you, Dot," I said. 

"You'd never say that," she answered, "if you had ever understood 
me at all. If you'd ever understood me in the least, you wouldn't put 
me in this position." 

"I haven't put you in any position, Dot," I said. 

"Oh, yes you have," she answered, "you've put me in the position 
of making me deliberately humiliate myself, and I can't stand it, 

It was difficult to follow her logic, but when I was with Dottie, I 
was accustomed to having things end up by being my fault. 

"All right," I said, and I could not help laughing. 

"Stop it," Dottie said. "God damn it, stop it," and then she looked 
at me and blew her nose again. "Well, what's so funny about it?" 

"I just remembered something," I told her. 

"What?" she asked me. 

"Well, it was quite a while ago," I said, "but I remember that you 
told me once it was all my fault you married Henry Peale." 

"Well, it was," she said. 

I could not help laughing again. 

"Darling," she said, "I wouldn't take this from anybody else. Can't 
you think of me at all, Sid? Can't you see that I'm unhappy?" 

"Yes," I said, "but then you've never been the contented type." 

Her mood had changed and she smiled at me just as though she 
had not been crying. 

"Darling," she said, "it isn't asking very much, is it, to talk to me 


for a few minutes about Mel Goodwin without acting as though I 
were contagious or something? There isn't any reason for you to as- 
sume this protective attitude about him." 

There was no reason at all, and yet I did have this attitude. 

"Listen, Dot," I said, "why not face it? You're not going to help 
that poor guy at all by being interested in him." 

"That's pretty condescending of you, calling him a poor guy," Dot- 
tie said. 

"Well, he is when he gets in the ring with you," I told her. "He 
just isn't in your class, Dot." 

"Why, darling," Dottie said, "that's the nicest thing you've said to 
me all day, not that I understand just what you mean by it" — but of 
course she understood, and we both sat there for a while thinking in 
our different ways about General Melville Goodwin. 

"Why don't you admit," I asked her, "that you had forgotten all 
about him until he became a figure in the news ? Why not be frank 
about it?" 

Dottie sighed, and shrugged her shoulders again. 

"Well, I remember him now," she said, "and maybe I'm just as 
much of an authority on him as you are. Come to think of it, I ought 
to be. Oh, Sidney, let's not be so silly with each other. After all, we're 

This was a timeworn word in certain circles. By being adult she 
meant that one could be freed from the trammels of convention and 
face facts fearlessly and now she was facing them in her own way. 

"Darling," she went on, "I want to try to make someone else in 
this world happy. That's one of the rules of life, isn't it ? ... And I 
could do a lot for Mel Goodwin." 

"His wife wants to make him happy, too," I said. "At least she has 
a few ideas. Why don't you try to put your mind on someone else. 
There are a lot of other men." 

Dottie lighted a cigarette and blew a cloud of smoke toward the 

"He isn't happy with her," she said, "in the way he ought to be 
happy with someone, Sid. She's always managing him. He told me so 
in Paris, darling." 


I could imagine without undue effort what Melville Goodwin 
must have told her in Paris, and I did not answer. 

"Aren't you going to say anything?" she asked. 

"Yes," I said, "and you know exactly what I'm going to say. For 
two days now I've been listening to him telling the story of his life. 
He's in a different category from you and me, Dottie. He doesn't 
know what is going to happen to him professionally. He's restless 
just like you, and that's about all that you and he would have in com- 
mon. He's never had the chance to see people like you, Dottie, and 
he's a very nice guy basically. You can't help him. All you can do is 
upset him. The only way you can help him is to leave him alone." 

I did not know that I was going to be so eloquent, or that I would 
feel so strongly, but what I had said couldn't have been more mal- 
adroit, because I had only aroused her interest. 

"Can't you think of anything to call him but a 'poor guy' and a 
'nice guy'?" Dottie asked. "But as long as you can't expand your 
vocabulary, don't you think that I'm a nice guy, too?" 

"You know what I think of you," I told her. "No. You've never 
been a nice guy." 

"Well," Dottie said, "for my money you've always been a bastard 
yourself, and you're getting to be more of one all the time." 

"Maybe that's why we've always been reasonably congenial," I 
said. "We've lived in a tough world, Dot. We've never been to the 
Point. We've never won the Croix de guerre. We've never needed 
to develop a superiority complex, and we haven't been in any chain 
of command. Dottie . . . aren't you going to leave Goodwin alone?" 

Dottie threw her cigarette into the fireplace. 

"No," she said. "Aren't you going to talk to me about him?" 

"No," I said, and I stood up. "I'd better be going now. I've got to 
get back to the country." 

"Oh, darling," Dottie said, "when you're angry, you're like a hero 
in a juvenile, and I ought to know, because we're printing a lot 
of them." 

"I wouldn't know," I said, and I thought of Melville Goodwin 
reading the Old Glory series in the Hallowell library. 

"Darling," Dottie said, "I never said I didn't like boys in books. 


Please don't go away. Can't you and Helen bring Mel Goodwin 
around to dinner?" 

"No," I said. "When he's through with us, he has to go to Wash- 

"Well, he can drop in here on his way, can't he?" Dottie said. "I'm 
going to call him up right now. What's your number in the coun- 
try, darling?" 

"I don't remember," I said. 

"God, you're a chump," Dottie said. "You act as though I were 
going to give him a disease, and I know your number anyway." She 
walked over to her desk and picked up the telephone and smiled at 
me while she waited for the operator. "I want to make a person-to- 
person call," she began, "to Major General Melville A. Good- 
win. . . ." 

There was nothing I could do about it, nothing I could say. 

"At least don't mention your name," I said. "Good-by, Dot." 

"At least he's a man," Dottie said. "Darling, Helen has improved 
you a lot. Come here and kiss me good-by." 

"No," I said, "not with the operator listening." 

"Darling," Dottie said, "you can't go yet. You don't know how to 
run that elevator." 

It was true that I was not mechanically minded, but I could try. 

"Just keep your mind on Mel and forget about me," I said; and 
while I pressed the elevator button, I could hear her speaking in her 
gayest, sweetest tone. 

"Mel," I heard her saying, "Sid's here and we've been talking about 
you all through lunch. Aren't you getting pretty tired of it out there 
with Sid ? When are you coming here to see me and tell me how you 
won the war. . . ?" 

I had not known what button to push, but at least the car started 
downward. Actually I had pressed the wrong one, and when the 
doors opened automatically, I found myself on the floor above the 
hall with the massive dark oak staircase almost in front of me. I had 
a glimpse of the Peale parlor with its carved Italian tables, and its 
gigantic pieces of tapestry-covered furniture, and also of the gold 
motif of the music room, and the dark splendor of the dining room 


with its wall of heavily framed Fragonard school pictures. My foot- 
steps made no sound on the Oriental runners. I might have been in 
the enchanted castle of an old Gothic romance or even Ulysses in 
Circe's palace. I wanted to get out of there and Dottie must have 
rung some sort of bell, because the butler was standing at the foot 
of the staircase with my hat and coat. 

"I got off on the wrong floor," I said. 

"That's all right, sir," Albert answered. "I can turn on the lights if 
you would care to glance at the pictures." 

"Thanks," I said, "some other time. I'm in a hurry now." 

I wanted to get out of there. I was glad to be back in the clear sun- 
light of the October afternoon, and even Williams and the studio 
Cadillac seemed like very old friends. 

"We'll go home now, Williams," I said. 

I told him not to mind the robe, but still he wrapped it around my 
knees because, as he said, the air was sharper in the afternoon. He 
was not my chauffeur, strictly speaking, but at least he was not 
Dottie Peak's chauffeur. Williams was an excellent driver, and I felt 
entirely secure speeding along the "West Side highway well ahead of 
the rush hour. Nevertheless I was thinking of a Grant Wood picture 
I had seen once when Helen had taken me to an uptown gallery — 
a picture of a car and a truck moving swiftly toward inevitable col- 
lision on a winding road, and I thought of the impending doom of 
Melville Goodwin. All the years of training and conditioning that 
had formed Melville Goodwin had taught him how to throw the 
Silver Leaf Armored into combat but not how to cope with Dottie 
Peale. Her problems had become grotesque, and I was safe from 
them and there was no longer the old reality to her tears or piety or 
wit, but I was deeply worried about what she could do to anyone 
like a Regular Army general who understood troops. I had never 
thought until then of Mel Goodwin as a classically tragic figure 
whom the fates were conspiring to destroy. I thought of him in the 
garden just before Camilla had asked me suddenly about Samson 
and Delilah. He was one of those Samsons ready and waiting for 
some Delilah to give him a haircut, and Dottie Peale was just the 
one to do it. Melville A. Goodwin was going to get his hair cut, and 

3 2 7 

medals and stars and clusters would not help him. He had killed his 
lion and had carried away his own gates of Gaza, but he was going 
to get his hair cut. There would be no light or heavy weapons to help 
him now that Dottie wanted to do something for him. The Philis- 
tines would be upon him and he would not even know that the 
Philistines were there. 

When I reached Savin Hill, they were still at it in the library. The 
General was still talking to Phil Bentley, and Miss Fineholt was at 
the desk with her notebooks, and Colonel Flax was listening. 

"Hello, Sid," the General said. "It's a funny thing, isn't it, that Sid 
can bring himself to go away and see pretty widows in New York 
when they've been taking pictures of me all afternoon." 

"I thought it was about time to call in the photographers, Sid,'* 
Phil Bentley said. "We're getting this thing pretty well cleaned up. 
We ought to be through by tomorrow." 

Melville Goodwin shook his head impatiently. 

"I don't know why we should have taken up all last evening and 
this morning with this stuff between two wars." 

"It's very interesting to me," Phil Bentley answered. "Nobody ever 
knows anything about army officers in peacetime. They all go under- 

"Listen, son," General Goodwin said, "we have our work and our 
wives and kids and problems, just like everybody else. How about 
it, Flax?" 

"That's right, sir," Colonel Flax answered. "The General is abso- 
lutely right. I hope you'll remember to make that point in the profile, 
Mr. Bentley. Damn it, service people are just like other people." 


Brave Days on Officers' Row 

General officers were not what you would call public characters in 
the sense that Hollywood stars, ball players, pugilists, district attor- 
neys, channel swimmers or nominees for the Presidency were — un- 
less there was a war. Then they appeared unheralded out of nowhere, 
and suddenly parents, sisters, sweethearts and even the GIs them- 
selves wanted to be reassured about them. They wanted to be told 
that generals had been fun-loving, mischievous boys, who had led a 
good honest American life, and to know that they loved jokes, chil- 
dren, dogs and football and had a few good healthy hobbies. Granted 
that they were military geniuses, it was important to know that they 
had the common touch. In Public Relations you could get their rec- 
ords from the files but these were not enough. You could see your 
man through the Point and perhaps you could find someone who 
could tell a funny story about him when he was a plebe. You could 
trace his career in some subordinate capacity in World War I, but 
after World War I his trail vanished into such a maze of technical 
notations that it finally disappeared from view. There were no large- 
scale maneuvers or big parades under peacetime appropriations to 
keep the army in the public eye. The army was simply scattered all 
over its real estate in almost identical barracks. 

Melville Goodwin could not list offhand the places he had seen or 
the sequence of his duties. He had served in Hawaii, the Philippines, 
China and Panama. Pie could remember the temples and the blue 
robes of the Chinese in Tsingtao, but none of this mattered greatly 
in retrospect. It might be true that if you joined the army you saw 
something of the world, and you learned, naturally, about sanitation 
and the care of troops in the tropics and about insect pests and 
dysentery, but most of the time you were concerned with a way of 

3 2 9 

life. Most of the time you simply saw the army. The army was a 
closed corporation, and you had to learn its amenities and how to get 
on with difficult superiors and how not to stick your neck out. The 
officers corps, Melville Goodwin said, was largely personality, and as 
time went on you either got the hang of it or you didn't. He had 
heard it said by outsiders that army men gossiped like old women 
when they got together, always telling stories about Mike So-and-so 
or remembering something about Hank Somebody-else, but this was 
not all done to pass the time away. At any time there might be new 
orders and you might be thrown in with Hank and Mike; and then 
you might be very glad to know what they and their wives were like 
and whether or not they enjoyed playing Ping-pong and what they 
thought of a little Saturday's drinking. Muriel, as time went on, kept 
notes about army people, and these were very useful, though person- 
ally he had never kept a note, finding that he could rely on his mem- 
ory. You could name almost anyone right now who had served as an 
officer in the peacetime army, and Melville Goodwin could give you 
a word sketch of him. No matter how dull the duty was, there was 
usually someone you could discuss Clausewitz with, or some new 
idea, confidentially, without sticking your neck out. 

Then, too, there was nothing more solid than an army family. The 
boys had been a heavy expense at times, even with free doctoring, 
but he would not have missed having them for anything, and neither 
would Muriel. He could remember Robert in his play pen at Bailey 
waiting on the square of lawn in front of the veranda. Charley had 
come along later when they were out in Oregon just before they 
went to the Canal. He could remember Charley in his pen, too, on 
another square of lawn in front of another veranda. It was always 
great to get back to the quarters and see Muriel and the kids, espe- 
cially after someone had been chewing on you. Also there were horses 
to ride and the tennis courts and the golf links and the Saturday 
nights at the club. It was not a bad life, the peacetime army, if you 
did not stick your neck out. A lot of it ran together now in his mem- 
ory, but there was one thing you never forgot, and that was your first 
post. It was the beginning of your life more than any war, and he 
and Muriel started together at Bailey. 


They were just kids and they had hardly been anywhere together 
and it was Muriel's idea that they should save on their travel allow- 
ance by going West on day coaches. The way you handled the var- 
ious allowances that came to you over and above your base pay made 
a lot of difference in your living, and Muriel right from the start had 
a knack for squeezing out the last penny. In fact he often told Muriel 
that she knew more about finance than anyone in the Finance De- 

It was late afternoon when they got off the train at Bedeville. They 
hitched a ride on an army truck to Bailey, Muriel in front with the 
driver while he sat out in the dust with a quartermaster sergeant who 
answered his questions about the post. They jolted along the road 
for about half an hour across miles of uninhabited prairie before 
they saw the reservation. He had to hand it to Muriel that she was 
not discouraged by being so many miles from anywhere, but nothing, 
when he came to think of it, ever discouraged Muriel. At headquar- 
ters there was a mixup because they had not heard that he was a 
married officer, and the news made all the difference. When the colo- 
nel saw Muriel, he immediately asked them to supper. By the time 
they were moved into half a house at the junior end of officers' row, 
they were almost part of the family, and Mrs. "Silver" Crosby, the 
lieutenant colonel's wife, showed them around herself and called 
Muriel "my dear" and said they must have a long talk about every- 
thing in the morning. Colonel Jones — Jupiter Jones — the post com- 
mander, who attended to the housekeeping but who did not con- 
duct the school, was a bachelor just reaching the retirement age and 
he looked every year of it. Yet when he saw Muriel, he told her that 
he would have been married long ago if he had ever seen a girl 
like her. 

"Oh, Melville," Muriel said when they were alone that night, "it's 
like a story, isn't it? And I just love Colonel Jones. He v/as so happy 
after dinner." 

Melville, too, had observed that Colonel Jones was happier after 
dinner than before. He had been suffering from a cough before din- 
ner and had excused himself several times to gargle his throat, and 
each time he returned, his cough had subsided and he was happier. 

33 1 

The truth was that Colonel Jones was something of a problem, and 
the word was that everyone should cover up for the Old Man. You 
couldn't help but love him when he began to talk about Indians and 
the old army. Kansas was a dry state, and the nation was going dry 
along with it, but there were still the patent medicines. You should 
have seen the Old Man's cases of Old Home Elixir and other bracing 

"Young man," he told Melville once, "the Civil War would have 
ended a year earlier if General Grant had known about Old Home." 

He was always fond of Muriel. In fact when Muriel was having 
Robert, he would sometimes call on her himself with a bottle of 
Old Home. 

Characters like old Jupiter Jones amounted to little in one's pro- 
fessional career, but you always came upon Joneses here and there, 
and it was useful to know how to handle them. There was one time, 
he remembered, when Colonel Jones began firing his automatic 
from his second-floor window because he believed that Arapaho 
Indians were skulking about the house. Melville was the one who 
got there first. 

"Sir," he said, "please give that gun to me quick, there's an Indian 
attacking Muriel." 

"Take it, boy," the colonel said. "I'll handle the rest of them bare- 

Stories like that would last for years. People in the service would 
hear some story about you even before they knew you, and Melville 
could tell a lot of good Jupiter Jones stories. 

Some of his oldest and dearest friends were among the younger 
officers who were on the post at Bailey with him. It was his good 
fortune, too, that he had been able to meet and converse with some 
of the ablest Infantry officers in the army who came there to the 
school. He could name them all now if he had to, but then what 
did names mean? He might, however, mention A. C. Grimshaw, 
and even civilians ought to remember Grimshaw 's name in World 
War II. He came to the school for two weeks once to deliver a series 
of lectures. They called him "Foghorn" Grimshaw because he spoke 
in a low, deferential voice. 


"Of course there may be a possibility that I'm wrong," he used to 
say, but by God, Grimshaw was never wrong. 

Melville met him first over a chess game at the club, and he took 
one game off Grimshaw, too, which may have been why Foghorn 
took a liking to him. It was possibly due to knowing Grimshaw at 
Bailey as much as to his record in the War College that Melville 
got a staff job under "Tweaker" Beardsley in the middle thirties. 
It may have been a word from Grimshaw, too, as much as his record, 
that finally got Mel Goodwin into tanks and to North Africa. 

There had been quite a ripple of excitement when Foghorn Grim- 
shaw had appeared at the school. The word had gone around that 
both "Black Jack" Pershing and Peyton March had said publicly 
that Grimshaw had one of the finest tactical and organizational 
brains in the service. He had been one of the youngest regimental 
commanders in the AEF, serving with the Ivy Division and then 
with Corps and finally at GHQ. There was nothing he had not 
read and nothing he could not do. He could even paint pictures. 
Put him anywhere, even in a soap factory, and he would have been 
running it in the end. When Mel Goodwin took a game off him at 
chess and played another to a draw, he did not realize at all what 
this might mean to him until he happened to be standing outside 
his quarters one day after retreat. Melville had just bathed and 
changed into fresh khaki and had gone out to look over the square 
of lawn that was drying up, when Major Grimshaw rode by on 
horseback with an orderly. The school horse he was riding was a 
scrubby animal named Soby, with a cast-iron mouth and a bad habit 
of dancing sideways, but even Soby looked stylish with Grimshaw 
on him. 

"Why, hello, Goodwin," he said. "Is this where you're living?" 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

"Have you a chessboard handy?" 

Melville was very lucky. He had bought a pegged-in chess set 
when he was in Cannes and he had it in the house. 

"It looks cool on that veranda," the major said. "How about a 
game if you've the time?" 

It would have been conspicuous and out of line to have invited 


anyone like Grimshaw to his quarters, but it was different now that 
the major was inviting himself. 

"Take my horse back to the stables please, Murphy," the major 
said, "and thank you for a very pleasant ride." 

He never forgot an enlisted man's name, and when he spoke to 
enlisted personnel, you were never conscious of rank. Muriel was 
out on the veranda as soon as they were up the steps, and Melville 
was proud that she did not look surprised or flustered. 

"I've just made some lemonade," she said, and then a while later, 
after they had finished a game, Muriel asked if Major Grimshaw 
would not like to stay to supper. They weren't going to have any- 
thing but cold chicken and salad and iced tea, but then perhaps it 
was too hot to eat much. 

Right from the beginning Muriel was pretty good at things like 
that. He would not have dreamed of asking the major himself, and 
he nearly dropped through the floor when Muriel spoke of chicken, 
but Muriel had run out in back and had borrowed it from the 
Cromleys, and Muriel had also borrowed cigars. She had heard 
Mrs. Silver Crosby say that Major Grimshaw liked them, and she 
had run all the way up the row to borrow some from Mrs. Silver 
Crosby. She had also borrowed after-dinner coffee cups from the 
Buddingtons and had asked Colonel Jones if she could pick a few 
of his begonias. 

During supper they began talking about the war, and Major Grim- 
shaw apologized once, saying he was afraid the talk might be boring' 
to Muriel, but Muriel said she had to learn about those things, being 
an officer's wife, and Melville simply would never tell her about 

"Melville knocked out two German machine gun nests," Muriel 
said. "He threw pineapples into them — isn't that what you call 
them, dear?" 

"Now, Muriel," Melville said. 

"That's just like Melville, Major Grimshaw," Muriel went on. 
"He never wants to talk about himself. Melly, dear, aren't you going 
to smoke your cigar?" 

He had only smoked one once, near Hill 302 in the Argonne. Still, 


he could not very well pretend he did not like cigars when Muriel 
put him in that position. 

"It was north of Chateau-Thierry, sir," he said, "near a little 
town named Cerey, and Muriel shouldn't have brought it up." 

"I've been through Cerey," the major said. 

"Now, Melly," Muriel said, "don't change the subject." 

He had to go on and tell about it after that, and as he did, he grew 
interested in the tactical problem and then the major began talking 
about tanks. 

"I wish we had a sandbox here," the major said. 

"Melly," Muriel said, "get a baking pan and get some sand from 
the Crosby baby's sand pile." 

It turned out to be quite an evening when they mixed a little water 
in the sand. There were some things that were chores, such as paper 
work and language and administration, but he always did have an 
instinctive enthusiasm for terrain. He began to forget who Grim- 
shaw was as they moved from one subject to another, and he began 
criticizing things more freely than he should have. For instance, he 
did not believe that horses could go anywhere that motor vehicles 
couldn't — if you had the right kind of vehicle. When Major Grim- 
shaw left, it was almost midnight, and Melville did not realize how 
much he had been sounding off until the major looked at his wrist 
watch. Then he imagined Foghorn Grimshaw's telling how he had 
spent an evening listening to a cocky kid lecturing on logistics and 
fire power. Muriel was the one who had started him off and after 
the major had left he told her it was pretty flat-footed. It did no good 
to have her say that the major enjoyed the evening or he would not 
have stayed so long. 

"You made me sound like a divisional commander," he said, "right 
in front of Grimshaw." 

They were standing alone in that tiny living room filled with all 
the furniture that no one else on the post wanted — because of course 
they were kids and almost anyone could rank them out of anything. 

"But, Melly dear," Muriel said, there at Bailey at midnight, "you're 
going to be a general someday T 

The funny thing about it was that Muriel had hardly seen a gen- 


eral then, except at his graduation from the Point. It was a year 
later before she met one personally. Old "Blinders" Blake stopped 
in to inspect the school and there had been a review, of course, and 
the customary show on the range, and afterwards one of those recep- 
tions at the club. Come to think of it, Muriel had been pretty preg- 
nant then. Wives on a post were always nervous about generals, just 
as though they might exercise seignoral rights, but Blinders Blake 
had not looked up to this sort of thing. He looked pretty sprung at 
the knees at that reception. Melville had worn his ribbons because 
Muriel had sent him home to get them. She was delighted when 
Blinders Blake had noticed his DSC. 

"Where did you get that, son?" he had asked. 

"Just outside of Cerey, sir," he had answered. 

"And is this your wife, son?" the General asked. "It's nice to know 
we're going to have another soldier soon." 

Things like that always got around. When "Tinhorn" Harry, who 
was the doctor then at the post hospital, gave Mel the news, he said 
that General Blake had called the number right. It was a boy. Muriel 
had told all the girls about the ribbons and about his trying to skip 
off to the reception without them. She had been right, Blinders Blake 
had noticed them, because generals were always checking up on 
medals, and it made a good story. 

In fact General Newhouse, when Mel served down at the Canal 
Zone, had actually heard the story. 

"Where did you get that, son?" he said to Melville. "I'm quoting 
General Blake." 

It only went to show how word could get around. 

It may have been dull in peacetime, but there were a lot of good 
minds and good men in the service. They were the framework 
around which the armies of World War II were built. They invented 
the system of instruction that finally turned out divisions like cars 
on a production line. All those army schools paid off in the end when 
everybody, even privates in the rear rank, had to become teachers 
handling raw material. Yet it took guts to stay with the army in the 
twenties, when there was no sign of another war. Out in Honolulu 
perhaps there was a certain reality to the war games, because there 

33 6 

was a possibility that the Japs might land there someday. The only 
trouble was that the navy would handle the Japs. The navy was 
always throwing its weight around, ready and willing to handle any- 
thing, particularly out in Honolulu — but then he was not going to 
criticize the navy, although he did know some pretty good stories 
about it. 

Sometimes he wished that army wives were not always watching 
and worrying about their men, but then there was nothing else much 
for them to worry about. Their futures were inseparable from their 
men's futures, and they only had one horse to put their money on. 
When things went sour, you could not blame a lot of them for wish- 
ing they had married someone else. Maybe Muriel wished she had 
sometimes, but she very seldom showed it. Of course he could feel 
that she was watching him, but Muriel very seldom pushed him and 
needled him. She never showed the bitterness or competitive spirit 
of many other army wives. On the contrary, she was a good sport 
and she was popular. She was always helpful and sympathetic, and 
as time went on she was always kind to younger wives. There was 
never anyone like Muriel for speaking the army language and saying 
the right thing. 

When he got promotions she never looked complacent like some 
of the other wives and when he got passed over for something good, 
she did not complain. She backed him up the one time that he dis- 
obeyed an order and came close to a court-martial. It happened at the 
Fort Jellison Demolition School when there had been a problem of 
blowing up a bridge. A Captain Burdock was the instructor, and 
Melville had commanded the detail that had placed the explosives. 
When the thing had not gone off, Burdock had ordered him to re- 
move the charge immediately, and he had refused, because of post 
regulations, to risk the men. He had ended up under arrest in quar- 
ters. He still remembered MuriePs face when he told her why he 
had come home early, and he could only tell her that he was right 
according to the book. The charge should have been left for two 
hours before it was touched. 

"Where's the book with it in it?" Muriel asked. "I guess I'd better 
go out and see somebody." 


It was one of the few times they had seriously quarreled. He had 
told her that this was his problem and not hers — but he never for- 
got that she was right behind him. 

"Well, anyway, you've still got me, Mel," she said. 

Actually the charge blew up half an hour later and half an hour 
after that he was called to the post headquarters office. 

"Now wait," Muriel said. "Before you go, take a shower and put 
on a clean uniform." 

The captain was in the CO's office and the door was not even 
closed, so that everyone heard Captain Burdock get his orders to 
apologize and everyone heard Burdock do it. Muriel was the one 
who fixed it up later by asking the Burdocks to come in to supper. 
It was not his fault or Muriel's that everyone at Jellison called the 
captain "Delayed-action" Burdock after that. He was always called 
"Delayed-action" Burdock, and Muriel still sent a card to them every 

Melville Goodwin could go on endlessly with his stories once he 
was in the mood. He seemed to tell them for much the same purpose 
that a chain smoker smokes cigarettes, for their soothing effect on 
the nerves rather than for any individual point or moral, and most 
of them seemed to me to illustrate nothing except a certain medioc- 
rity and a snail-like advance upward on the service list — a list which 
was governed entirely by seniority until 1935. The General kept say- 
ing that he hated nothing more than blowhard officers who pulled 
wires and who sucked up to their superior officers at headquarters, 
but you could have a glimpse of Muriel Goodwin through the Gen- 
eral's verbiage, dusting him and brushing him and showing off his 
right points to the right people by skillful indirection. Yet ob- 
viously his own abilities and virtues were the factors in getting him 
where he was. No woman could push a chump up to two stars. 

I remembered what she had once said — that she never worried 
about Melville when he was with troops, and I could think of her 
as breathing a sigh of relief and putting her mind on the children 
and the house when Melville was out somewhere on field maneuvers. 
Also, I had heard some of his contemporaries vaguely and guardedly 


imply that the farther he was removed from basic realities, the less 
effective he became, but he possessed great reserves of clearheaded- 
ness, resilience and mental durability. Furthermore, he was fearless, 
not only intellectually but physically, in an unimaginative, unhysteri- 
cal and dedicated way. This arose from what I had always thought 
about him — that he was essentially annoyingly simple. 

Melville Goodwin was never happier in his life, he said, than 
when he was assigned to command a company in the Philippines 
in Colonel Curly Whittell's regiment — Curly was subsequently 
relieved after a visit from the Inspector General's office and ended 
his career at a G-2 desk in Washington. Before he was assigned to 
the Philippines, Melville had been attending a lot of schools. It was 
good, after all this theorizing, to get down to basic fact, and no 
matter what anyone said, Infantry was fact. All the special branches 
and the bright boys in them, the Artillery, the Signal Corps, the 
Tanks and Aviation, had no other basic purpose than to push ahead 
the Infantry, and you had better not forget it. He always resented 
the snooty attitude specialists took about Infantry. 

One night at the club at Baguio, when he was up there in the hills 
for a week's leave to see Muriel and the boys, he got into quite an 
argument with his classmate, Phil Mitch — who was commanding a 
field artillery battery — and some flying officer who had something 
to do with a pursuit group on Nichols Field. This might not have 
happened if Muriel had been there, but Muriel had a low fever and 
had told him to go ahead to the Saturday night dance. Someone in 
a corner had been singing that one about caissons rolling along, and 
Phil had asked Melville why he hadn't chosen a real branch of the 
service instead of the Infantry. Their voices must have risen because 
quite a crowd began gathering around them, including some higher 
officers. Melville said plenty about Infantry and he quoted Hender- 
son's Stonewall Jac\son to prove it, just the way dogmatic ministers 
quote the Bible. Phil had said he sounded as backward as the late 
William Jennings Bryan and the monkey trial, and he had told Phil 
to keep the conversation away from monkeys, that they were talking 
about Infantry. He must have said more than he intended and per- 


haps he stuck his neck out because Lieutenant Colonel Dowel — 
that would be old "Gypsy" Dowel, who was infantry himself, but on 
a four-year tour as Inspector General — kept handing him drinks 
and saying he was a fundamentalist himself and thank God there 
were a few fundamentalists left in the army, and Melville had said 
thank God there were, sir, that sometimes he thought the army was 
drifting away from fundamentals; and some of the officers below 
field rank had said go ahead and give it to him, "Fundamental" 

At any rate, he must have stuck his neck out all right because 
Muriel, who felt well enough by Monday to go out to a ladies* bridge 
luncheon, came back and said she had heard that he had been very 
noisy at the club and that maybe it would be just as well if he did 
not have such a chip on his shoulder about Infantry. Nevertheless he 
had been absolutely right, and he told Muriel then that she might 
as well face it, she had married someone who was going to be in the 
front lines if there was going to be another war, and never to mind 
the rank. He overheard her saying the next night that Mel was an 
eccentric, but as a matter of fact she was as proud as he was of that 
company. It was like owning something at last to have a company. 

An Infantry company, when you came to think of it, was the sharp 
edge of all war weapons and the individual enlisted man was the 
the primary unit. You could not be a successful company commander 
or a successful anything in the field if you could not put yourself in 
the shoes of the average American soldier. No enlisted man in his 
right senses ever expected an officer to be his pal, but if you could 
get the confidence of your people, you could do anything with them. 
Even the worst of them wanted to be the snappiest soldiers in the 
best outfit in the service, and they would rupture themselves trying 
to be if they felt they had a chance. 

Company A, when he took it over, was not bad, but its personnel 
were slowed up and were trying to cut corners. The food and the 
drill were mediocre and so were the uniforms. The first thing he 
did when he took command, even before he talked to the officers, 
was to interview the top sergeant, because the morale of the company 
and everything else was in the hands of the top kick. The top ser- 


geant of A Company was a sullen-looking man named Politz, who 
had already served three hitches and who knew all about gold- 

"Now, sergeant," he said, "I want to be frank with you. I'm am- 
bitious and I want to get ahead, because I have a wife and two kids, 
and I'm going to make this the best God-damned company in the 
army. I want you to help me do it." 

He could tell from Politz's expression that he had seen officers 
come and go, so he decided he had to make it stick, especially as 
he was still a first lieutenant, though a company CO. 

"You think I'm handing you the old line of goods, don't you, 
Politz?" he said. "All right, I'll have to show you. I'll back you up 
if you'll back me, and if you don't, I'll bust you. First off, I want you 
to be the best-looking top sergeant in the regiment and so you've 
got to do something about your breeches and your blouse. Report 
here at two this afternoon, and I'll take you to the post tailor 

He could see that Politz did not like it and neither did the mess 
sergeant when he got after the cooks, but he really turned that com- 
pany inside out and in the end it could do close order and extended 
order like a drill team. They were all a team from top to bottom, 
including the junior officers, one of whom, "Long John" Gooch, he 
asked for, later, as his chief of staff in the Silver Leaf. 

Day and night he was out there. He would go over every man 
from head to toe, as though they were kids getting dressed up for a 
birthday party, and by God you should have seen his men at guard 
mount. Maybe Politz and some of them thought he would quiet 
down, but he didn't. There was always wife trouble and girl trouble 
and drinking trouble in the company, and he was always ready after 
retreat to listen to troubles personally. No matter what engagements 
Muriel had made for him, she had to break them on the nights of 
the regimental boxing matches, and it was the same with the com- 
pany ball team. When the men began to spend their own money at 
the post tailor's so that they could have their breeches and blouses 
like Goodwin's, he knew that everything was in hand, and Muriel 
got the spirit of it and began doing things about the noncoms' wives. 

34 1 

When the word got around that Goodwin would go right down the 
line for anyone in A Company, he knew that he was getting where 
he wanted. He could always figure logistics in terms of live troops. 
They were never abstract figures but men with a certain limit of 
endurance. He could reach decisions by looking at the faces of 
troops. He had learned this from Company A. 

He often explained such problems to Muriel when they were to- 
gether in the evening, and it was amusing to hear Muriel quote him, 
as she did sometimes at routine official dinners. You certainly 
learned about social life in the army, starting right as a shavetail, 
because of all those calls and courtesies and functions. You learned 
how to enter a room without tipping things over and how to pull 
out chairs and handle teacups and how to carry on a meaningless, 
harmless conversation with the lady on your right or left. It might 
be dull, but by God you learned. If incidentally you learned too 
much about somebody's wife flirting with somebody else, you also 
knew when not to speak about it. Most officers might have started as 
small-town boys who had never seen a formal dinner table, but you 
knew your way around by the time you got to field rank, and no 
one could laugh at the army. 

There was nothing that made him more pleased and proud than 
hearing from other people what a really top-drawer girl Muriel was. 
Formidable women in the higher echelons who had marched with 
their husbands from the Point up to the big house on the post and 
who ought to know, and frightened clumsy little lieutenants' wives 
who didn't know anything, all kept drawing him aside at dances and 
functions to tell him how much they liked Muriel. She knew all the 
stories and the jokes and the special type of flattery that made the big 
brass feel good, and yet she could also turn right around and make 
all the young kids just entering the service feel right at home. It 
made him very proud that Muriel had so much faith in him, though 
when they began to get a little rank and he overheard small snatches 
of what Muriel was saying about him to the big brass, he would 
sometimes be impelled to laugh and say that Muriel overestimated 
the situation; but at the same time, Muriel never went out of her way 
to tell anyone that he was an unappreciated wonder, as a lot of other 


wives did while building up their husbands. In fact she would al- 
ways start by running him down a little. She would say, for instance, 
that she was afraid sometimes that Melville was turning into a 
martinet . . . sometimes she really wished that the boss would put 
him on the carpet and tell him to relax. She sometimes thought that 
man of hers, as she occasionally called him, was such a perfectionist 
that people under him would resent it. Yet back there in the Philip- 
pines the men in that company of his had really adored him, though 
she was sure she did not know why, and when he got orders to re- 
turn to the States, Sergeant Politz and a little enlisted men's com- 
mittee came calling at the house, bringing a silver cigarette box . . . 
it almost made her cry. . . . The box was presented to her, of course, 
to get around army regulations. . . . Melville was just as hard on 
his own two sons as he was on troops. She was sure she didn't know 
why his sons were always following him around and always calling 
for Daddy when they went to bed — except that he could tell them 
nice stories. 

For instance there was the story of Corporal Hoskins and his dog. 
Melville was surprised when he heard Muriel telling this one to 
Colonel Frye at a formal dinner, because Muriel always disliked 
dogs and would not have one of them around the house. Somehow 
enlisted men always would go for dogs and monkeys and things 
like that. Every once in a while you'd have to have an open season 
on pets, or you'd find you'd be running a zoo. That mutt of Corporal 
Hoskins's was one of those queer mutts you saw running around 
the rice paddy villages in the Philippines with sores all over him, 
but Hoskins had cleaned him up. The mutt's name was Bolo, and 
Melville put up with Bolo because Hoskins was a good noncom, 
until one day at a battalion parade, when the company was passing 
in review and he had just given the command "Eyes right," he hap- 
pened to see Bolo right behind the adjutant keeping time to the 
music. The battalion commander put him on the carpet afterwards, 
in a nice way — but on the carpet. 

"I love you, Goodwin," Major Grundy said, "but I don't love your 
dog, and the colonel was right there, and the colonel doesn't love 
him either." 


"Neither do I, sir," Melville said. "He isn't mine. I didn't know 
he was there, sir." 

"Well," the major said, "maybe he thinks the adjutant's a hy- 

"He didn't commit a nuisance on his post, did he, sir?" Melville 

It was all good fun and there was always apt to be kid and dog 
trouble around a parade when the band began to play, but still, he 
had taken a bawling out and when he got back to the company office, 
he put Hoskins and Bolo on the carpet. 

"Hoskins," he said, "by tomorrow morning I want to see that 
pooch out of here." 

"Sir," Hoskins said, "if the lieutenant would watch what he can 
do, the lieutenant might go easy on him." 

"What can he do?" Melville asked. 

"He can do it on his hind legs, sir," Hoskins said. 

"Do what on his hind legs?" Melville asked. 

"The drill, sir," Hoskins said. 

It was the damnedest thing. That mutt could stand on his hind 
legs and do a rightabout, left face and right face and walk around 
the room, forward, to the rear march, and eyes right, all by the num- 
bers. Something had to be done about genius, and eventually he 
took Bolo and Hoskins up to the major, who took them all to the 
colonel's. The colonel was giving a little dinner that night, and after 
dinner Bolo did his drill. After that Bolo entertained at a lot of 
parties, but he never did appear again at a formation. 

If Muriel's ideas about him did not always coincide with what 
Melville knew about himself, they certainly were always favorable, 
and they always made him happy, and she certainly seemed to know 
better than he did how to get on the right side of individual supe- 
riors. To give just one example, when Lieutenant Colonel Witherell 
from the general staff came to Hawaii for the winter maneuvers, 
Muriel found out somehow that Witherell had a special weakness 
for the Civil War battle of Chancellorsville and that Witherell was 
particularly fond of everything that had happened on the Orange 
Plank Road. She had told Melville this several days before Witherell 


dined with them at Kahala and she had urged him to study up in 
his Henderson for two evenings on Chancellorsville. Then Muriel 
had simply said in a most casual way that she did wish that Melville 
could think of something besides the Civil War. Any time those 
navy people next door wanted a bridge game — and it was fun to 
see Melville make money off the navy — why he would always ex- 
cuse himself and sit under the lamp with one of those Civil War 
books. That was all that Muriel needed to say. Witherell came 
around a lot after that. She also told Witherell one of those Philip- 
pine Company A stories, the one about his playing parcheesi with 
Robert after his supper. 

"Mummy," Robert had said, "Daddy doesn't try when he's play- 
ing parcheesi. He keeps counting out one, two, three, four, five, 
halt. He's thinking about A Company." 

He could not remember Robert's ever having said anything like 
that, but it made a pretty good story. 

Muriel kept after his bridge game, and then she went to work 
on his golf. That paid off pretty well when they were stationed 
around Washington, but by then Muriel had found out somehow 
that fishing and generals seemed to go together. When he finally 
got his majority, he could play good poker and bridge, not to men- 
tion chess. If he was not a good dancer, he was adequate. He could 
play fair golf and he could cast a fly and he always had been excellent 
at skeet. 

"You really have the makings of a good field officer now," Muriel 
told him, "and don't say I haven't worked on it." 

Of course this was partially a joke but not altogether. There was 
a lot to the army in peacetime besides routine duty and professional 
qualifications, and Muriel had recognized this much more clearly 
than he ever had. Some officers were good dancers and some were 
fine piano players and singers, but accomplishments like these, 
Muriel used to say, weren't sound, and Muriel may have been right. 
There was Sewell Beebe, for instance, five years after Melville's time 
at the Point. When Melville Goodwin was serving at Schofield on 
Tweaker Beardsley's staff, everybody wanted "Soo" around because 
he could play the ukulele and he had a fine baritone. Yet seriously, 


Beebe was also a fine officer with brains and ambition. It surprised 
Melville, when a staff job was open, to find Tweaker Beardsley turn- 
ing Beebe down. Though Melville hated politics, he had been serving 
under General Beardsley for about a year when Soo's name came up, 
and he felt that he was enough of a member of the family to stick his 
neck out for a friend. 

"Soo's a good officer, sir," he said. "He wouldn't fit so badly in 

Tweaker Beardsley took a cigar out of his left-hand desk drawer 
and chewed the end of it for a while. 

"Give me a light, will you, Mel?" he said. 

Melville was ready, because Muriel had seen to it that he always 
carried a pocket lighter when he went to work for the Old Man. 

"He looks all right on his record," the Old Man said, "and maybe 
he is, except that he sings." 

If Melville had wanted to stick his neck out a few inches further, 
he might have reminded the Old Man that he always sent his aide 
for Beebe and his uke when there were dinner guests at the big 

"I don't mind music personally," the Old Man said. "Mrs. Beards- 
ley always carries around a lot of red seal records and she chews 
on me if I break one, but to get back to Beebe, he's too good a 
singer. We'll scratch Beebe and take on 'Plugger' Hume. He played 
right guard, didn't he, his last two years at the Point?" 

"Yes, sir," Melville answered. 

"That's more like it," the Old Man said, "and, Mel, just as an 
older man to a younger one, don't go sticking your neck out for 
singing officers. You might be misunderstood." 

"Yes, sir," Melville said. 

The Old Man's cigar was out, and he asked Melville for another 

"When you're choosing personnel," the Old Man said, "select a 
good sound poker player or a golfer or someone who likes fishing, 
and you know where you are, because those types have stability. Put 
the prima donnas in Intelligence but keep them out of Operations." 

Of course, parenthetically, this prejudice about singing was some- 


what personal with old Tweaker Beardsley. For over ten years the 
Infantry School had a glee club which put on two musical comedies 
yearly and two concerts also. He once bet Muriel that he could pick 
at least fifty generals who had sung in glee clubs between the wars, 
and what about the glee club in the Command and General Staff 
School? There was even a male quartet in London with a Catholic 
priest, a Protestant chaplain and a brigadier general in it. Neverthe- 
less, Muriel always stuck to her guns. It might be all right, she had 
said, that evening when he told her about Soo, if officers sang in 
groups and choirs. She still did not think it helped if an officer was 
too funny alone with a ukulele or a piano, and she was very glad 
that Melville never sang with a uke. She would have been worried. 

"But, Melly, dear," she said, "it might be a nice thing to ask Plug- 
ger Hume and Betsy over for Sunday lunch and we'll ask the Beebes, 
too, and Soo can bring his uke." 

It was great to hear Soo singing that Sunday under the coconut 
palms with the trade wind blowing, but Plugger Hume walked 
right across the lanai and all the way around the living room and 
back on his hands. He was sound and he made a good assistant in 

Those years had been like the moving belt on a production line, 
and Melville Goodwin and his contemporaries had taken their places 
on the belt by the numbers. Some had left to go into business in the 
twenties. Others had met with death, accident and illness, and one 
or two had been pulled off by the high command. The rest of the 
crowd had stayed on the belt until the very end, to be so shined, 
tightened and tested that they stepped off as logical candidates for a 
star, and even some of these end products broke down when a more 
than theoretical strain was placed on them. No matter how effective 
the simulation, combat was the final test. 

Melville Goodwin, as he once said himself, was basically a com- 
petent military mechanic. He might not have the global approach of 
a planner in the Pentagon but he could look at the road and guess 
what lay around the curves. There was a lot that was wrong with the 
army. It had its deadwood and its paper-passers, but still it was a 


pretty good army to have turned out Bradleys and Pattons and 
Mac Arthurs just when they were needed. He did not mean to place 
himself in any of these echelons, because at some point or other every 
officer's professional clock struck twelve. Everybody could not be a 
Napoleon, and an armored division was just about his dish. That 
was a show he had really learned how to handle — but, without 
boasting, he could handle a corps or something larger. At any rate 
he had graduated from the Command and General Staff School at 
Leavenworth with a recommendation to command a corps in war- 

Besides the Command and General Staff School, he had attended 
the Army War College, and he had done his share of staff work in 
Washington. He had sweated it out for years in the old Munitions 
Building, and he had not been bad at a desk. He couldn't be, with 
his rank, but somehow active service in the field had spoiled his 
taste for desks and for sitting around conference tables or reclining 
in map rooms, talking to a lot of Fancy Dans. Of course he had been 
at a desk in Frankfurt, but frankly, he did not want to be chair- 
borne again if he could help it. He could take the Pentagon, if 
he had to, but frankly that building gave him a mild sort of claus- 
trophobia. Sometimes he wished that Muriel would stop thinking 
about three and four stars. There just weren't many stars being 
passed around on platters now, not even in the Air Force. A lot of 
his colleagues were also shaking around loose like him, looking for 
stars — who had a lot more jokers up their sleeves and a lot more 
horseshoes in their pants than he had. Competition was pretty stiff 
around the Pentagon, but maybe someone would take a look at 
him in Washington and give him a job of work to do. 

Actually he had been over the whole subject with Muriel last 
night, and he had pointed out one pretty good fact to her. The coun- 
try had made use of him. He had been the doctor who had been al- 
lowed to practice, and just exactly where would they have been if 
there had not been a war? He was still a major back in 1940 and 
only a lieutenant colonel at the time of the maneuvers in '41. That 
was something for Muriel to think about. She had raised her boys 
to be soldiers, he had told her, and maybe in a year or two her oldest 


boy ought to put his sword and gun away so that she could give a 
little more thought to Robert, and to Charley at the Point. 

It was interesting to remember how things started to chirk up in 
the service when there began to be a little distant gunfire in the 
world. Henry L. Stimson seemed to want us to do something about 
Manchuria, though nothing happened. Then, after Hitler's march 
to the Rhineland, and the blowof? at the Marco Polo Bridge, and 
Munich, you began to feel that maybe you hadn't missed the boat 
being in the army. Still, after Dunkirk it looked as though the whole 
show were folding up. It made him very restless and he found him- 
self short of sleep. They were at Benning — he was on the Infantry 
School staff as Tank Instructor at the time — and there were new 
ideas every minute, and there was also the tactical aircraft angle. 

"Melly," Muriel asked him, there at Benning, "have you heard 
from Foghorn Grimshaw lately?'* 

Of course, as everyone knew, General Grimshaw was in the office 
of the Chief of Staff in Washington. 

"I suppose he's still living in Georgetown, isn't he?" Muriel said. 
"I haven't written Ellen Grimshaw a letter for a long while, and 
they sent us a Christmas card. I don't believe they even know that 
Robert has entered the Point." 

When he got orders to go to Washington to attend a conference 
of observers back from Europe, he was sure that Muriel's letter had 
nothing to do with it. He was certain that Foghorn Grimshaw 
would have thought of him anyway, and the General was very glad 
to see him and asked him to come to Georgetown for the night. The 
truth was that things were chirking up. The General said he might 
be wrong, but confidentially he did not see how we could keep out 
of that show in Europe indefinitely. There were going to be a lot of 
chances for bright young men. The General was not as young as he 
had been back in Bailey, and neither was Melville, though he hadn't 
a gray hair in his head, but he was still a bright young man to Fog- 
horn Grimshaw, and everybody began to see that this was the sort 
of war that demanded younger men in the higher ranks, instead of 
Papa Joffres. 


Right Under "H" in the Dictionary 

Somehow I found myself examining Melville Goodwin not as a 
friend but as a useful piece of material — as Foghorn Grimshaw 
must have, not to mention other members of the hierarchy in Wash- 
ington. It was after eleven o'clock when he had reached those pre- 
war months in Washington. He stopped after mentioning Papa 
Joffre and looked slowly around the room as though he were trying 
to gauge the effect of everything he had said. Then he smiled at 
Phil Bentley. It was not his sour smile, but that appealing smile that 
always made him look so young. 

"Say, Bentley," he said, "right out of the horse's mouth — have I 
made a God-damned fool of myself up to date or haven't I?" 

I could see that Phil Bentley liked it. The General had learned 
how to handle Phil. 

"No, sir," Phil said. "On the contrary, you've made a lot of sense." 

Obviously Mel Goodwin was pleased, but his glance did not leave 
Phil Bentley's face. 

"In the army," he said, "you've always got to take loyalty for 
granted from the top down and from the bottom up. There's no 
reason why you should be loyal to me, but I'm trusting you, son, and 
I've got my neck way out. You can raise hell with me if you want 
to, and maybe there are some people around who would enjoy it if 
you did." 

"You're going to see everything I write," Phil Bentley said, "and 
if you think any of it raises hell, I'll change it." 

Coming from Phil Bentley, this meant a great deal, and I won- 
dered if the General realized it. His eyes were still on Phil. 


"You see, I'm just a simple guy," he said. His using that expres- 
sion surprised me, because I had applied it to him so often myself. 
"You've got to be a pretty damn simple guy if you lead troops in 
combat, because combat's God-damned elemental." 

"You're not as simple as all that, sir," Phil Bentley said. "You're 
complicated sometimes." 

"Listen," the General said, "I know where I stand. I'm a pretty 
simple guy, Phil." 

It was the first time in all those interviews that Mel Goodwin had 
called him "Phil." As I have said before, calling you by your first 
name was one of the beguiling habits of big brass. I remembered 
that he had called me "Sid" much sooner. He had shown per- 
spicacity in waiting so long with Phil. 

"Just the same," Phil said, "I'd hate to meet you in a poker game." 

Phil Bentley knew something about the brass himself. Nothing 
ever pleased them more than being told they were good at poker, 
and Mel Goodwin laughed as though Phil had said something very 

"Phil," he said, "we'll really have to try it some day." 

He had called him Phil once more to show it was no mistake. 
I was looking at Mel Goodwin again, as Foghorn Grimshaw must 
have looked at him in Washington. He had no excess weight. He 
was trained down like all the good ones, with just the right facial 
lines and a cheerful, extrovert look that you often saw on a good 
competitive athlete. He was a very finished product. He would rate 
as a piece on any chessboard and not an advanced pawn. He might 
not be a rook or a queen, but he was surely a knight or a bishop. 
He was the sort of person whose name would be bound to come up 
for some big spot. 

The General flicked up his wrist to look at his watch. 

"Well," he said, "just a few yarns about North Africa tomorrow 
morning and then you'll have the old man pretty well squeezed out, 

Colonel Flax laughed at the General's little joke, and General 
Goodwin stood up. 

"Let's plan to end this by lunch tomorrow if that's all right with 

35 1 

you, Phil," he said. "Good night, bright-eyes." He smiled at Miss 
Fineholt, and then he turned to me and punched me softly on the 

"Sid," he said, "stay down here for a minute and explain me to 
them, will you, and you'd better come along with me, Flax. They 
might say something that will hurt our feelings, and, Sid . . ." 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

"Stop in and see me before you turn in, will you?" 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

General Goodwin had taken over. 

"There isn't a thing to talk about, sir," Phil Bentley said. "You've 
laid it all pretty well on the line. To use an old army expression that 
I seem to have heard somewhere, it's only up to me to start carrying 
the ball." 

The General had done very well or Phil Bentley would never have 
been so informal. 

"God damn it," the General said, "cut out that 'sir* stuff, will you, 
son? You're not in the army, and my name's Mel. Come on, Flax, 
and let's get the hell out of here." 

After they left, Phil Bentley took off his glasses and polished them 

"Sid," he said, "he really seems to like me, doesn't he ? Maybe I'm 
learning about the army." 

Perhaps we were all understanding the army better than we had 
previously. Phil had seen something of it before, as an overseas war 
correspondent, but he had been exposed to the products of that great 
organization more than to its way of life. 

"Those anecdotes," Phil Bentley said. "He pulls them out of a hat 
like rabbits. God, they are still running around the floor." 

I am sure that none of us were thinking of Melville Goodwin's 
little, stories individually as much as of the background that created 

"There's one thing that interests me," Phil Bentley said. "Gen- 
erals' stories are almost interchangeable among generals. Have you 
ever noticed that?" 

"Yes," I said, "that's right. They're uniform." 


Phil Bentley swung his spectacles like a pendulum between his 
thumb and forefinger. 

"Then why do you suppose they keep on telling them?" he asked. 

He was obviously working out the structure of the profile. 

"Sometimes I've thought it rests them," I said. "They convey some 
private meaning that we don't see. They're a sort of narrative short- 

"Maybe they haven't got anything else to talk about," Phil Bent- 
ley said. "Take someone like Goodwin. Take his humdrum stultify- 
ing little life, all that spit-and-polish and all that competition and all 
that existence by the numbers. Then suddenly he gets more power 
than anyone ought to have and an automobile and a plane and a 
permit to kill off people. I don't see anything in the life he's lived 
that makes him capable of using that power intelligently. There's a 
gap somewhere. I wish I could find the gap." 

1 could see it if he didn't. I had gained some sort of glimpse of it 
behind Melville Goodwin, but it embarrassed me to point it out to 
realists like Phil Bentley and Myra Fineholt. 

"Don't you see, Phil?" I said. "You can't put him into any ordi- 
nary category. Don't you see he's a hero ? It's the power and the glory. 
Now you and I wanted to be heroes once, and Myra wanted to be 
Joan of Arc, and we've all got over it, but Goodwin still has the 
virus. It's catching around there at West Point. I don't say that I ap- 
prove of heroes. I don't say that they look so well in peacetime, but 
he's a hero and he can't help it." 

I saw Miss Fineholt gazing at me tolerantly, but Phil Bentley 
looked startled. 

"Listen, Sid," he said. "Don't you think you're going off the deep 

"No," I said, "the trouble is we don't like to admit there are heroes 
any more, outside of an epic." 

"Any more than there are fairies in the bottom of my garden," 
Miss Fineholt said. 

"Just the same, Myra," I told her, "you've been listening to a hero 
tonight, perhaps not grade A but grade B. They have to eat and get 
along and they have compulsions like you and me. If you take Good- 


win that way, everything fits together. He wouldn't have put up 
with what he went through if he hadn't had the power-and-the- 
glory vision." 

Phil Bentley put on his glasses. 

"Now wait a minute," he said, "are you trying to make me believe 
that every officer in the Regular Army is a hero ? Let's get down to 

"All right," I said, "the fact is that a lot of them have never got 
over that early fantasy. A lot of them think they may be heroes some- 
day, and that's why they like the life. Why not face it instead of 
gagging over a word?" 

There was something behind all that Melville Goodwin had said 
that was dedicated and magnificent and undemanding of justifica- 
tion. Perhaps a psychiatrist would call it immaturity, but whatever 
the attribute was, it had its own splendor. 

"Let's get it straight," Phil Bentley said, "instead of kicking it 
around. Just what is a hero?" 

I walked to the bookshelf and looked for the Shorter Oxford Dic- 
tionary, which Helen had given me the first Christmas after we were 
married, and I handed down the first volume to Phil Bentley. 

"Look it up. In case you don't know it, it's under 'H,' " I said. 

Phil turned the pages over slowly. I heard the tall clock in the 
hall — the clock that Helen had bought when she began to like 
Chippendale — strike the half-hour, but the sound was aloof in the 
silence of the house. I had the ridiculous illusion that General Good- 
win was back there with us again, in his chair, actually leaning for- 
ward and waiting for what might be read. 

"Well," Phil Bentley said, "well, well. Take this down, will you, 
Myra, on a separate sheet, and put it ahead of the notes? Here's an 
Oxford definition of a hero. Quote: 'A man who exhibits extraor- 
dinary bravery comma, firmness comma or greatness of soul comma, 
in connection with any pursuit comma, work comma, or enter- 
prise. . . .' Close quotes." 

"You can't use that about Goodwin, can you?" Myra Fineholt 

Phil Bentley closed the dictionary and took off his glasses. 


"Why not?" he said. "Anyway I'd like to think it over. I think I 
might use it in the lead." 

"You know better than to do that, sweetheart," Miss Fineholt said. 

Phil Bentley sighed and looked at the empty armchair where Mel- 
ville Goodwin had been sitting. 

"Well," he said, "maybe all this has put me a little off the beam. 
I don't go with it all the way, but still the definition almost fits him, 
doesn't it?" 

Of course I had seen some heroes in the last conflict and although 
I respected what they had done, I had not always admired them or 
wished to be like them myself. The press was always looking for 
new ones, and there was a lot of hero competition between the Air 
Force and the Navy, and there was frequently considerable pressure 
on Public Relations from higher echelons to do something about 
Ground Force heroes. In fact I had once been assigned as a sort 
of valet to one of these — a Congressional Medal of Honor hero. 
He was twenty-two years old, from Ohio, and his name was Cor- 
poral Jacob Snodgrass — no relation to the former ball player. 

It had been my duty to take him about the country for two weeks, 
arranging appearances before various civic groups so that they could 
see a hero. It was a pretty tough assignment for me but not for Cor- 
poral Snodgrass. He did not like being exhibited but he enjoyed the 
trip. When he was not drinking bourbon, usually supplied by me, 
he was taking money out of me at gin rummy or becoming emo- 
tionally involved with uninteresting women. When he was not 
doing any of these things, he was reading comics very slowly. It 
generally took him two days of cerebration to finish a book of 
comics, and he always needed to get drunk before he started on 
another. I have an idea that he modeled himself on Flash Gordon, 
Dick Tracy and Superman, and he may even have won his Congres- 
sional Medal because he could not let the comics down. He had 
killed almost a platoon of Japanese in a jungle, and he had walked 
back to the lines with a live Japanese major under one arm and his 
wounded patrol leader under the other, but he cost me nearly three 
hundred dollars for liquor, girls and gin rummy, for which I was 
never reimbursed by the government. I admired what he had done 


in the jungle, but to him it was only a slightly hilarious episode, and 
sometimes after he had polished off a pint of bourbon he would say, 
Hell, that I could have done it myself. I could not have done it my- 
self. I did not possess his physical build, or his physical courage, or 
his lack of imagination. Perhaps it was not fair to use the corporal 
as a unit of measure, because the corporal did not answer the dic- 
tionary hero definition very well, but he did have one thing in com- 
mon with other heroes I have known. He did not thrive in an ordi- 
nary environment. Take heroes away from their proper time and 
place and they became awkward and maladjusted. 

Now Melville A. Goodwin was far from being a Corporal Snod- 
grass, but you could not see his virtues clearly when he did not have 
to employ them. You had to see him grinning and rubbing the mud 
off his uniform, as he had in Normandy when that mortar shell had 
exploded near us, or you had to see him in a jeep driving across a 
mine field in Normandy. It was not his fault that opportunity did 
not permit him to exhibit intestinal fortitude all the time. He would 
have been very glad to do so, as I endeavored to point out to Myra 
Fineholt and Phil Bentley before I said good night. 

As I walked upstairs after putting out the downstairs lights, I was 
still thinking so intensely about heroes that I almost forgot that Mel- 
ville Goodwin had wanted a word with me before I went to bed. 
I experienced a short sense of anticlimax when I saw him in the 
main guest room in his undershirt and trousers with his shoes off, 
but he still looked as though he could slip back into everything if a 
whistle blew. His shoes were in perfect alignment at the foot of his 
bed. His coat was on its hanger in the clothes closet. His military 
brushes were in the exact center of the tall bureau and through the 
half-opened door of the bathroom I could see his shaving brush, 
shaving stick, toothbrush, toothpaste and safety razor all in a 
meticulous row on the glass shelf below the medicine chest. There 
was only one detail that I found disconcerting. He was wearing 
steel-rimmed glasses, and it had never occurred to me that he might 
need glasses for reading. He wore them, I saw, because he was 
examining a pile of photographs. 

"Sit down and look them over, Sid," he said. "This bunch has just 

35 6 

been rushed up from Washington. I think the boys did a real job on 
me. What do you think ?" 

He watched me anxiously when I sat down and examined the 

"News services do better than the Army Pictorial Service," he said. 
"Don't you think so? I had a lot taken of me in Normandy and a 
lot up with the Silver Leaf, but these are better." 

There were candid shots of Melville Goodwin from every angle, 
Melville Goodwin gazing straight ahead, a stern Goodwin, a smil- 
ing and a laughing Goodwin, a sad Goodwin, a Goodwin looking 
slyly from the corners of his eyes and even a bored and yawning 

"They were crawling around and snapping me all afternoon here, 
too," he said. "I never had time to brace myself because I never knew 
when they were going to push the button." 

They had to be good photographs. Most of this series would be 
used, I supposed, as aids for the artist who did the magazine cover 

"They are certainly giving you the works," I said. 

The photographers had obviously struggled for informality, but 
the strange thing was that not one of them showed him in a gro- 
tesque or ungainly pose or off balance. Smiling, frowning or smok- 
ing a cigarette, talking or tight-lipped, he was easily as photogenic 
as a Hollywood star. The uniform may have helped and the in- 
stinctive correctness with which he wore it, but still there must have 
been some sort of subconscious watchfulness inside him that not even 
a candid photographer could penetrate. 

"You certainly look sharp," I said. 

He accepted it as a fact. 

"You learn to," he said, "with troops looking at you all the time. 
I'm used to having the privacy of a goldfish. I'm trying to pick out 
the best one to pass around." 

I knew what he meant by passing one around. They always 
made a specialty of signed photographs in the service. I thought 
of the rows of them I had seen on walls or bookshelves in officers' 


"Muriel collects them like postage stamps," he said. "She always 
carries a gallery with her. Maybe it's not artistic but it's good to look 
around and see your friends. ... I think I'll use this one." 

"That one looks fine," I said. 

"You don't think it looks too much as though I were going to 
chew off somebody's rear, do you? It doesn't look too much like old 
Vinegar Joe?" 

"You don't look like Vinegar Joe," I said. 

"Muriel said to be sure to get one of you, Sid," he said, "preferably 
a picture of you and Helen together. We want you in the gallery." 

"That's where we want to be," I said, "permanently in the gal- 

He took off his glasses and put them in their small black case, and 
I was curiously relieved to see him without them. 

"Sid," he said, "I can't tell you what your seeing me through this 
has meant to Muriel and me. Muriel said she liked you as soon as she 
saw you. She knows a lot of people, but she doesn't like so many." 

"Well, I liked Mrs. Goodwin, too," I said. 

"God damn it," he said, "she's Muriel. Get used to calling her 

It was obviously the time to make a formal and graceful speech 
in acknowledgment of the General's tribute. 

"Helen and I have enjoyed having you here tremendously," I said. 
"Helen loves company, and this has been quite a build-up for me. 
They always like it at the studio when I associate with Very Impor- 
tant People." I laughed to show that this was partly a joke, though 
basically serious. "I feel I've come to know you as I never would 
have otherwise — what with all this personal history and reminis- 
cence. I've always thought a lot of you, just seeing you around, the 
way you do see people, and it's nice to know I had sound judg- 

It sounded a little laid on, but then, high-ranking officers usually 
were like artists, actors or writers, who depended, whether they ad- 
mitted it or not, on a certain amount of adulation, and the flattery 
did not have to be so gentle either. They had all built up a tolerance 
for it, and undoubtedly a lot of people had dished out this sort of 


thing to Melville A. Goodwin, because I could see him reviewing my 
little statement like a connoisseur, winnowing the chaff from the 
grain. I was glad when he accepted it at its face value, because I had 
felt it genuinely. 

"I'm glad if I've made a hit with you, Sid," the General said. "I 
guess everybody likes to be regarded favorably in the right quarters, 
and I admire you personally. You've got a lot on the ball." 

"Not as much as you," I said. "I'm superficial and you're not. 
You see, you don't need to be superficial." 

The General was not thinking of me or my problems at the mo- 
ment, and I was just as glad he was not. 

"Brother," he said, "you certainly can lay it on with a trowel, but 
go ahead, I like it. Say, without pulling punches, how do I rate with 
Phil Bentley and that research girl?" 

"You ought to know," I said. "They admire you, Mel." 

"Well," he said, "that's fine. I thought it might pay off to hand 
it to them out of the horse's mouth. . . . Say, Sid, get me my foun- 
tain pen, will you? It's in my blouse pocket in the closet." 

It was an order but it was not out of place, because his asking me 
showed that he considered me a member of his group. 

"Here you are, sir," I said. 

I had just called him "Mel" but now it was correct to call him 
"sir" and we both knew it. He picked up a photograph from the 
floor beside him, his favorite photograph, and wrote across it diag- 
onally in a firm bold hand. 

"Here," he said, "from me to you." 

Across the photograph he had written, To Sid with admiration 
and affection, Mel. 

"Thanks, sir," I said. "I'll value this always." 

Again, it was correct to call him "sir" because the moment had 
been formal, involving a presentation, an award of merit, like the 
pinning of a medal, and all our talk had led up to it, but now the 
ceremony was over and we were out of formation. 

"Oh, hell," he said, "forget it, Sid, but I mean every God-damned 
word of it." He coughed and cleared his throat. "So you had lunch 
with Dot in New York, did you?" 


The elaborately weary way he leaned back in his chair and his 
careful unconcern were faintly amusing because subtlety was not 
one of his strong points. For some reason I did not look forward to 
what was coming, now that he was, with admiration and affection, 
my old friend Mel. 

"She called you up, didn't she?" I said. 

Without meaning to, I was adopting his own unconcern — talk- 
ing casually about a girl we both knew slightly named Dottie 

"That's right," he said, and he coughed again. "You didn't suggest 
she call me, did you, just to cheer the old man up or anything 
like that?" 

"No," I said, "no, it was entirely her own idea." 

It was disturbing to see him lean forward and to see his whole face 
light up. 

"You mean she thought of it all herself?" he asked. 

"Yes, all herself," I answered. 

He was smiling his youngest smile. I was alarmed to see him look 
so happy. 

"I'm having dinner with her tomorrow night," he said. "It really 
will be nice to see Dot again. I sort of thought she'd forgotten all 
about me. She never answered my last two letters." 

There was no use warning anyone about things like that. Instead 
it was always advisable to get out from under, and the General was 
old enough to take care of himself, and I was probably overemphasiz- 
ing the whole thing — but I felt that I had to say something. 

"Oh, that's the way she is," I said. "It's off with the old and on 
with the new. You don't want to take Dot too seriously, Mel." It 
was about all that I had any right to say. 

"Thanks for the briefing, son," he said. "I guess I wouldn't have 
had that invitation if I hadn't spanked that Russki in Berlin. I'm not 
taking Dot seriously, but all the same, it will be nice seeing her 

"Dot's pretty good company," I said, "and she has a whole suit 
of armor in the front hall." 

Melville Goodwin still looked very young. 


"I certainly want to see it," he said. "Maybe I need a little re- 
laxation — off the record, Sid." 

"Well, don't forget you have a record," I said. 

"Oh," he said, "everything doesn't get into a 201 file." 

"Perhaps not," I said. "I was just thinking of Ulysses coming home 
from Troy." 

"What the hell has Ulysses got to do with it?" the General asked. 

"You recited a poem about him once at the Ritz in Paris," I said. 

He looked at me hard, as though he wanted to pull his rank, 
but then he must have realized that he was out of the military 

"Fm still waiting to hear what Ulysses has to do with it," he said. 

"Well," I said, "when he was sailing home to Ithaca to rejoin his 
wife Penelope, he put wax in his ears so he couldn't hear the sirens 

There was a moment's tension, and Melville A. Goodwin's face 
grew red, but suddenly he laughed. He was never as dumb as you 
thought he would be. 

"God damn," he said, "it hurts me to see an educated boy like you 
fall down on mythology. He put wax in his crew's ears, son. He 
didn't use any wax on himself. He had his men tie him to the mast." 
Melville A. Goodwin had an almost flawless memory. "And anyway, 
there aren't any Circes or Calypsos or sirens around, either, son. 
There's only Dottie Peale, and I don't take her seriously." 

Even in his undershirt surrounded by his photographs, Mel Good- 
win possessed a quality in which I needed to believe. That must 
have been why I let myself go further. 

"All right, you're not exclusively Ulysses," I said. "You're Major 
General Melville A. Goodwin, USA, graduate of West Point, the 
Infantry School, the Tank School, Command and General Staff 
School and the War College, but what's more, you're a combat gen- 
eral. I've even heard the boys call you 'Muddy Mel.' " 

"Son," he said, "you ought to write citations. Go right ahead and 
lay it on. Don't let me stop you." 

"And what's more," I said, "you're Horatius at the bridge." 


"God damn," Melville Goodwin said, "I thought you were just tell- 
ing me I was Ulysses." 

"Well, you're Horatius, too," I said. "'And how can man die 
better . . . Than facing fearful odds . . . For the ashes of his fathers 
. . . And the temples of his Gods?'" 

He had been smiling, lapping it up, as he listened to me, but sud- 
denly he stopped and raised his eyebrows. 

"No kidding, Sid?" he asked. 

"No," I answered, "not in the strictest sense." 

His face was graver and sterner and sadder than it had been in any 
of those candid photographs. He looked entirely off his balance, not 
ready for any camera. 

"That's right," he said, "it isn't entirely kidding. Maybe I've got a 
little of that stuff. You need it in the show, and now the whole show's 
over. There's one trouble with acting in those shows. You get keyed 
up to them, and I'm not dead. That's the trouble with it — Fm still 
alive. You've handed me a pretty fast line, son, and maybe old 
Horatius Ulysses Goodwin had better turn in now and get some 
sleep. Good night, Sid." 

"Good night, Mel," I said. 

"Here," he called, "come back here. God damn it, you forgot your 

What was it that I had felt that night about Melville Goodwin ? I 
still cannot exactly set it down. I had reacted toward him as he him- 
self had reacted long ago to that Decoration Day parade in Nashua. 
If he was not great, he had great memories, and he knew how to 
throw the dice, win or lose, both for himself and for a lot of other 
people. He had his 201 file and his record and I may have recog- 
nized its value, having so slim a record of my own. For me there 
was no sense of achievement. There were no 201 files or service 
dossiers in civil life. 

I thought of him at the Ritz in Paris, reciting Tennyson's lines on 
pushing off and sitting well in order and smiting the sounding fur- 
rows. He was pushing oflf again, but he should have been in battle 
dress pushing off with the tanks. He had to keep on pushing because 


he had forgotten how to stay still. He had been in too many big 
parades to sit at home in Ithaca or Washington. A doctor might have 
said that he had developed an adrenal quality. He had drunk too 
long from the golden cup that held the wine of power and glory. 

3 6 3 


A Short Quote from Kipling 

I thought that Helen would have been asleep long ago, but she 
called me as soon as I was in our dressing room. She was sitting in 
bed wide awake reading Proust, a taste I had always found it impos- 
sible to share. 

"I haven't seen you all day," she said, "except to look at you across 
the table at the officers' mess." 

"Don't be bitter," I said, "we've got to World War II, and the 
circus ought to break up after lunch tomorrow." 

"I'm not bitter," she answered, "but I didn't know you could be so 
military. I'm beginning to feel like Mrs. Goodwin." 

"You couldn't," I said, "not really." 

"She wants him to settle down," she said, "and I'd just as soon have 
you settle down, too. You look worried. Are you worried about Gil- 
bert Frary?" 

I had not been worried about Gilbert, and it was too late at night 
to start worrying about him now. I told her I could not keep my 
mind on both Gilbert Frary and the life and times of Melville 

"Well, tell me I've been wonderful through it all," she said. "I 
need a little encouragement." 

I told her of course that she had been wonderful through it all. 

"All right," she said. "Now open the window. Things don't feel 
right this evening. The house doesn't feel right." 

Our bedroom still seemed too large for us, and there was that 
country silence to which I was not accustomed, but the house felt to 
me just as it always had. It was too new to have atmosphere or ghosts 
except those of Mr. and Mrs. Winlock. 

3 6 4 

"You always start having premonitions whenever you read Proust," 
I said. 

"There's nothing of Proust around at all," she said. "Everything's 
more like Shakespeare. I feel as though we were all in Julius Caesar 
with a lot of omens." 

I hesitated to tell her that I had begun to feel that way myself. 

"You can't have everything, Helen," I said, "and there aren't any 
omens in Connecticut." 

"What were you doing up so late?" she asked. "I heard everyone 
come upstairs." 

"Oh," I told her, "just saying good night to 'Julius Caesar' Good- 
win" — but certainly Melville Goodwin had never been offered a 
golden crown in any forum. 

"Maybe Mark Antony comes nearer," Helen said. 

It was not so quiet outside as it had been. I could hear the wind in 
the bare branches of the ornamental beech trees. "Sid," she went on, 
"what's going to happen about him and Dottie Peale?" 

Sometimes she was like Camilla and did not want to go to sleep. 

"Now, Helen," I said, "what makes you think anything is going 
to happen?" In such circumstances men always stuck together. 

She looked at me for a moment and then she shrugged her bare 
shoulders. She had beautiful shoulders, and the whole scene was get- 
ting more and more like Shakespeare. 

"Sometimes you're awfully obtuse," she said. "Don't you know 
that Mrs. Goodwin knows all about it?" 

"Now, Helen," I said, "there isn't any 'it' for her to know anything 
about. There was only Paris, and I told you about Paris." 

"Oh, Sid," Helen said, "oh, Sid." 

"I don't believe she heard anything about Paris anyway," I said. 
"What did she say to you that makes you think so?" 

"Oh, Sid," Helen said, "of course it isn't about Paris. It's about 
now, and of course she didn't say anything. How could she?" 

"You ought to put something over you with the window open or 
you'll catch cold," I said. "If she didn't say anything, how do you 
know she knows anything?" 

"Oh, Sid," Helen said, "really." 


At least Mrs. Goodwin had not been there when Dottie Peale had 

"I wish you wouldn't keep saying 'Oh, Sid/ " I told her. 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "anyone can see she knows. You only have to 
look at Goodwin, Sid. I'd know if it were you." 

"Well, it isn't me," I said. 

"I know it," Helen said, "but it would be nicer if you said, 'It isn't 
I,' and besides, it used to be you." 

There was no reason whatsoever for her to bring up the subject, 
and I had told her everything about Dottie Peale and me. 

"That was before I ever saw you, Helen," I said. "How many 
times have I told you that it was all over as soon as I went to the 
Paris Bureau?" 

"Oh, Sid," Helen said, "of course I know. Dottie's never worried 

"Then why did you bring her up?" I asked. 

"I didn't," she said, "but now we're on the subject, she made a pass 
at you this afternoon at lunch, didn't she? Not much of one but a 
sort of one, didn't she ? " 

We looked at each other for a moment. She was smiling. She had 
never been worried about Dottie. 

"What makes you think so?" I asked. 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "it's so easy to tell about those things — the 
way you looked before dinner when you said you had lunch in her 
study. Why else would she have you in her study?" 

"Suppose we get back to Goodwin," I said. 

Helen laughed, although I could not see what she thought was 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "you only had to see the way he looked after 
she called him up this afternoon. Sometimes I don't think you know 
anything about sex or about the subconscious mind or anything. It 
was like something in the Song of Solomon. Now kiss me good night 
and say you love me, darling, and then open the window wider. You 
never like fresh air." 

It was always colder in the country than in the city when the win- 
dow was open. 


After the light was out, Helen spoke again. "Darling," she said, 
"he's such a nice old thing. He's just like Colonel Newcome." 

"Goodwin's not in a wheel chair yet," I told her, "and he isn't a 
bit like Colonel Newcome." 

"Well, I wish there were something we could do about it," she 
said. "Do you know what I think ? I think she wants to marry him." 

"Now, Helen," I said, "what should make you think anything like 

"Oh, Sid," she said, "anyone can see she's looking for a man." 

"All right, she's looking for a man," I said. 

When she spoke again, I was half asleep. 

"Sid," she said, "another thing." 

"What other thing?" I asked. 

"Gilbert Frary sent me a big box of orchids this afternoon — not 
purple ones, yellow ones." 

"Well, he was here the other night," I said, "and Gilbert always 
likes to send things." 

"But he's never sent so many," Helen said. "There are twice as 
many as he's ever sent before. You can look at them tomorrow. 
They're in the icebox. Good night, darling." 

"Good night," I said. 

Gilbert Frary and the orchids and Julius Caesar Goodwin and 
Cleopatra Delilah Peak tangled restively in my thoughts, while I 
was falling asleep. 

Women were usually more realistic than men in their analyses of 
other women, especially certain women. I had not taken a number of 
aspects of my luncheon with Dottie Peale seriously until after those 
remarks of Helen's. They had opened a new and curious vista of odd 
little possibilities. Of course Dottie Peale was one of those people 
who were always being talked about in the chromium New York 
Latin Quarter that had its center near the night clubs and the restau- 
rants of the Fifties. I had never cared much for this area, but I did 
know something of it professionally, since professionally I had be- 
come one of those figures whom headwaiters and captains recog- 
nized, and Gilbert Frary frequently said that it was a part of my 
day's work to appear with Helen sometimes and to allow myself to 


be seen by what he called my "public." I did not like these expensive 
hot spots, but I was well acquainted with them because, one might 
as well face it, we were all of us hustlers in our different ways, and 
at least I was a piece of property who always got a table up front. 

Everyone in this area had been wondering for a long while when 
and whether Dottie Peale would get married again. She was the sort 
of person, everyone said, who certainly ought to get married, and 
there were plenty of prospects with whom her name had been con- 
nected. There was Alfred Binghill, who had that big place at Man- 
hasset and that winter place at Palm Beach, and if Alfred Binghill 
was too extrovert there was also a foreign composer who frankly was 
very anxious to marry a beautiful rich American girl. If he was too 
exotic, there was Mortimer Felcher, the British novelist, published in 
America by Peale House, a writer whom Dottie had always called 
another Galsworthy. I had not thought about Dottie's private life for 
a long while, and Helen's theory that Dottie had selected Mel Good- 
win as a prospective husband did not seem wholly convincing. Still, 
I could not help remembering Dottie's wistful remarks about missing 
the boat and now not having anyone — not even me. If Dottie had 
been thinking along these lines about Melville Goodwin, at least I 
had come first, and somehow the idea made me quite cheerful. 

These reflections returned to me as soon as I awoke the next morn- 
ing. The army had taught me to set my mind like an alarm clock, 
and the General would be down for breakfast at eight sharp, prepared 
for his final session in the library. I immediately awakened Helen. 
She could not believe it when I told her it was half past seven. 

"And what if it is?" she asked. "I've just got to sleep." 

"It's his last breakfast," I said, "and we both ought to be down." 

"How do you mean?" Helen asked. "He isn't going to be executed 
or anything, is he?" 

"The last officers' mess," I said, "and I think you're all wrong, 
Helen. I don't think Dottie has any idea of marrying him. Why 
should she?" 

"Oh, you're thinking about that, are you?" Helen said. 

"It just crossed my mind," I said. "Of course she doesn't want to 
marry anyone." 


"Well, why are you looking so cheerful?" Helen asked. "You're 
usually cross at this time of the morning." 

"I was just thinking about you and your shape of things to come," 
I said. 

"Darling," Helen said, "don't you see the General's new? He's 
different from all you other boys. Can't you put yourself in Dottie's 

"No, I can't," I told her. 

"Well, I can," Helen said. 

The General and Colonel Flax were already in the living room 
waiting for breakfast, and Melville Goodwin also looked cheerful. 
He must have been telling Colonel Flax some anecdote because I 
heard them both laughing before Helen and I arrived. 

"Good morning, my dear," he said. "Did Sid make you come down 
here on account of me?" 

"Oh, no," Helen said, "I love to get up early." 

"So does Muriel," the General said. "It's nice we're getting 
Helen in the groove, Sid . . . and, Sid, we've really got to get 
activated this morning. I want to leave for New York this 
afternoon. Where are Bentley and Fineholt? Can't they ever 
wake up?" 

"I'll send Oscar upstairs after them," I said. 

"That's all right," the General said. "Flax has been up after them 
already. They answered you, didn't they, Flax?" 

"They're rising and shining, sir," the colonel said. "They ought to 
be right down." 

"Oh, Mel," Helen said, and she was right in the groove that morn- 
ing, "Sid showed me your photograph and what you wrote on it. I 
love it." I had meant to remind her to speak of the photograph, but 
she had done it all herself. 

"I meant every word of it, my dear," the General said. "I'm proud 
to think I'll be somewhere in this house." 

"I'm proud, too," Helen said. "It's all been lovely, and sometime 
soon you and Muriel must come again without all this interviewing. 
It hasn't really been a visit, has it, Sid?" 

Helen looked at me and smiled in a meaning way. 


"No," I said, "of course it hasn't." 

Helen smiled at me for another second before she turned again to 
Mel Goodwin. 

"Muriel and I had such a nice time comparing notes," she said. "I 
love Muriel." 

"That goes both ways," the General said. "You ought to hear what 
Muriel said about you, dear. She said she wished you had married 
someone in the service. You know what she means, Sid. Muriel 
couldn't say anything more than that." 

"That reminds me," Helen said, and she glanced at me again. "I 
have a little present for you to take to Muriel — some orchids. They 
are in the icebox now but they'll keep until you get to Washington 

At last I could see the way things were going. Helen was right in 
the groove that morning. 

"Why, that's very kind of you, my dear," the General said. "Im- 
agine your thinking of anything like that, but frankly I don't know 
how I can handle orchids." 

"They won't be any trouble," Helen said, "as long as you don't 
bounce them around. They're all packed in a box." 

The General had estimated the situation, and now he was taking 

"I can't think of anything Muriel would like more," he said. 
"There's only one little hitch." He frowned and clasped his hands 
behind his back. 

"What little hitch?" Helen asked. 

"Well, it may just be," the General said, "that I won't be able to 
get to Washington tonight, and I wouldn't want to have those or- 
chids spoil on me. I know what Muriel would say." 

"Oh dear," Helen said, "they're yellow orchids. As soon as I saw 
them I thought of Muriel." 

"The difficulty is, dear," the General said, "I have a few duty calls 
to make in New York. I ought to drop in at First Army Head- 
quarters as a matter of courtesy and see Bud Hodgkins there. We 
were at the Point together, and Bud may ask me to spend the night. 
That's why I can't be sure about the orchids." 


"Oh dear," Helen said, "but perhaps you could put them in the 
refrigerator. Colonel Hodgkins will have a refrigerator." 

"General Hodgkins," Colonel Flax said. 

"Oh," Helen said, "I'm sorry — General Hodgkins." 

The ranks were forming already, and loyalty was starting in a 
military manner. 

"I'll be going down to Washington tonight, sir," Colonel Flax said. 
"It will be a pleasure to leave the flowers for Mrs. Goodwin." 

The General smiled. "Good," he said, "thanks, Flax. That's the 
best way out of everything." 

I knew that Helen was looking at me, but I did not want to look 
at her. 

"Let's go in and get breakfast," I said. "There's no use waiting." 

"No use at all," the General said. "We've got to get moving. 
Say, Flax, you were in the landings at North Africa, weren't 

"Yes, sir," Colonel Flax said, "I went in with 'Bolster Two.' " 

" 'Bolster Two,' " the General said. " 'Pinky' Perkwell was with 
'Bolster Two."' 

"Yes, he was, sir," Colonel Flax said. 

"Pink and I served at Benning once," the General said, "but we 
missed connections in North Africa. I was with 'Heinzy' near Tunis 
in 'Bullpup' and I never did see anything of 'Bolster Two.' . . ." 

Once I heard someone say in France that any general above the 
one-star rank carried his headquarters around with him mentally, 
even if he was not attached to anything. General Goodwin had de- 
veloped an instinct, of course, for imposing order wherever he went, 
for "tidying things up a bit," as General Montgomery had put it in 
the Battle of the Bulge, and Phil Bentley and all the rest of us had 
instinctively fallen into our proper echelons. Breakfast at the stroke 
of eight was part of the system, and following breakfast came the 
brisk ten-minute walk in the open air. The General had started by 
suggesting the walk, but by the third day it had become routine. He 
simply said, Come on, Flax, or Come on, Sid, according to his desire. 
When he finished breakfast, Phil Bentley and Miss Fineholt now 
knew that they would have just ten minutes to organize things in 


the library or the General would be displeased. This last morning, 
after technical dialogue with Colonel Flax about the mission o£ "Bol- 
ster Two" around Oran and various personalities in "Bolster Two," 
Melville Goodwin pushed back his chair and thanked Helen, dear, 
for a delightful breakfast. Then he did not even say, Come on, Sid. 
He simply said, Sid. Everything was running like clockwork at head- 
quarters, and in thirty seconds we were outdoors in the fresh Octo- 
ber morning. He had set a course for himself down the drive to 
the main road, then diagonally across the field to the deserted 
stables, which still seemed to attract his attention because of 
their lack of horses. We started down the drive in close-order 

"There was a wind last night," he said, "but no rain. This is damn 
good maneuvering weather." 

"Yes, sir," I said. "The ground's solid underfoot." 

When he looked at me I felt like a young officer who had made a 
flip remark. 

"Don't kid me, son," he said. "I'm not in a kidding mood. Those 
God-damned orchids! What made Helen ever think of sending me 
down to Washington with a bunch of orchids?" 

"Well, you see," I said, "Gilbert Frary — he's the one who runs 
the program, you know — sent them to Helen. They're a very rare 
variety. It's what Gilbert would call a gracious gesture, and I suppose 
Helen wanted to make a gracious gesture." 

"Well, God damn!" the General said. "If anyone sent Muriel a 
lot of orchids, I'd put an interpretation on it." 

"Maybe I should," I said, "but Gilbert's always making gracious 

"Now there was a colonel when Muriel was at Baguio . . ." the 
General said, " 'Slink' Somerby, ought-seven at the Point. . . . Some 
people always have woman trouble. It's like liquor. You can always 
pick the Fancy Dans." I waited expectantly for Melville Goodwin to 
go on about Slink Somerby, but he was silent, and we walked for a 
while in cadence. "Muriel was really a sharp-looking gal in Baguio," 
the General said, "but she never did have man trouble. There's only 
one thing wrong with Muriel." 


The General was thinking out loud, but I wished he would not 
think out loud quite so confidentially. 

"I wouldn't say this to many people, boy," he said, "but there comes 
a time when a man has to talk to a friend who has a broad-gauge, 
tolerant view. I don't know how to lay it on the line exactly, but 
you're about the only one I know as an intimate friend who is both 
on the inside and the outside." 

"On the inside and the outside of what?" I asked. 

"The service," the General said. "You have a service-type instinct 
and a service-type loyalty. I observed it the first time I saw you. 
You're like me; you're loyal from the top down and from the bottom 
up, and believe me, there aren't many who have the right team loy- 
alty. There are a lot of pink-pants boys who have their knives out 
for guys like me. Now don't interrupt me. Let me make my point." 

I had not the slightest intention of interrupting him, but I did wish 
he would do his thinking aloud along more conventional lines. 

"Now let me make my point," he said again. "There's only one 
thing wrong with Muriel. She's always taking over. You know, 
sometimes Muriel reminds me of the British. Did you ever collabo- 
rate with the British?" 

"No," I said. 

"When you get around a table with them," the General said, "you 
shake hands with Sir Gordon Fewks, KCB. Then you shake hands 
with Field Marshal Sir Guy Douglas Jones-Smyth-Jones, KCB, CBS. 
Then before you know it, there they are, right in control, telling you 
what to do exactly. You must do this and you cawn't do that, really, 
old thing. You may have a few simple ideas of your own, but they 
always get lost somewhere, and you mustn't hurt the feelings of the 
British. Now up there near Antwerp there was a Limey division on 
my left flank, and oh my God, you wouldn't have known we had 
won the Revolution. I might have been a Canadian or an Aussie. Oh 
my God!" 

We reached the main road and turned right oblique across the 
field to the stables, dropping into route step because the ground was 
rougher, and I wanted to ask him some more about the British, but 
I remembered he had not made his point. 


"Now Muriel's like those Limeys," the General said. "She instinc- 
tively assumes control, if you know what I mean, and she always 
does it for the best. It may be — I don't know — that I'm not quite as 
adjusted to Muriel as I was, because I've been overseas for quite a 
while and sort of on my own. You know — compelled by circum- 
stances to work out a few ideas by myself. I know Muriel can't help 
it. She assumed control just as soon as I stepped off that C-54. She's 
got it in her mind to get me a desk somewhere at the Joint Chiefs. 
God damn! I don't seem to be adjusted any more. You see what I 

"Yes," I said, "I see what you mean. Now take Helen . . ." but I 
stopped. There was no need for bringing Helen into it, and besides, 
Helen's problems and mine formed no suitable basis for comparison. 
After all, a lot of other men had found they were not adjusted to 
their wives when they came back from overseas. 

"That's exactly what I mean," the General said, "everybody has 
personality problems. I've had to go over plenty of them with a lot 
of the kids in France, and it's usually the same damn problem essen- 
tially — but I haven't really any problem." 

I felt as removed as a doctor or a priest. His face brightened now 
that he had talked himself out of his problem. 

"But there's one thing I'd like to get straight," he said. "I may be 
wrong, but it seemed to me that you had a sort of stricken look when 
I said I was going to have dinner with your friend and my friend, 
Dottie Peale, tonight. Now what the hell is the matter with it ? You 
didn't have any stricken look in Paris. Why did you give me all that 
talk about my record just because I'm having dinner with Dottie 

I thought for a while before I answered. I might as well have tried 
to stop a fire horse from running to a fire. His men had not tied him 
to the mast, and he was hearing the sirens. 

"Never mind it," I said, "but just take it easy, Mel." 

He looked at me and I looked back at him. It was another of those 
rare moments when he did not have the rank. 

"Say, Sid," he said, "has anything happened between you and 
Dottie since Paris ? I get the idea that you don't seem to like her any 


more. You don't seem to understand her charm, her sympathetic 
quality or anything." 

"Oh, let's skip it, Mel," I said. "I like her in a different way from 
you, that's all" — but of course he did not want to skip talking about 
Dottie Peale. 

"There's one damn funny thing about me, Sid," he said, "that I 
don't understand. Any time I dance with a pretty girl twice on Sat- 
urday night, there's always a general air of disapproval up and down 
the scale, a raising of eyebrows and a lot of God-damned kind ad- 
vice. I don't know why it is that other people seem to be able to raise 
hell and get away with it. There are a lot of high-ranking nonmo- 
nogamists — you'd be surprised — but when it comes to me taking 
a day off — God almighty! Eisenhower or Clark or Bradley or some- 
body gets me on the carpet. The whole damned army wants me to be 
true to Muriel. What are you smiling about? Do you think that's 

"Yes," I said, "a little funny." 

We had reached the stable, and now we turned right oblique to 
the house. 

"You ought to get some horses, Sid," he said, "but let's get this 
straight. I know where I am and what I'm doing. Do you under- 

"Of course I understand," I said. 

"I just want a few moments off," the General said, "just a few 
God-given moments out of a hectic life to talk to someone who 
listens to my ideas. Dottie always listens. She even likes some of 
my ideas." 

"That's right," I said, "Dottie always listens," and I wondered if 
he knew that he had opened himself like a book and had guilelessly 
turned page after page. 

"Maybe I'm smoking too much," he said. "I always seem to have 
catarrh in the morning." The General drew a deep breath and cleared 
his throat. We had almost reached the house. "Well, that's all there 
is to it. I just wanted to give you a little briefing, Sid, so you'd see 
there's nothing serious about this at all," and then he smiled that 
very young smile and nudged me with his elbow. "And besides, 


everything's secured. Flax is taking those orchids to Washington." 
There was something incredibly naive about the boyish gesture of 
suddenly selecting a best friend to whom you could tell everything. 
General Goodwin had tossed the secrets of his life out casually and 
carelessly, just as though he were pulling objects from a hastily 
packed bag and strewing them helter-skelter around the floor. I was 
not in his age group and hardly a brother-in-arms, except by his own 
directive. I could only explain his action from what I knew of the 
way military figures dealt with material classified "Top Secret." Once 
they knew you had the proper clearance, they would shoot the works 
with pleasure, just to get it off their chests. By some eccentricity Mel 
Goodwin had decided that I was cleared. I did not want to be his 
intimate friend handling his top-secret files, but there I was, a voice 
of experience. 

There were checks and balances, I supposed, in any marital rela- 
tionship, which were always undergoing subtle change. Once the 
General had not minded Muriel's taking over the controls, and now 
he did. I wished I knew what had happened at their first meeting 
when he had descended from the plane at Washington, fresh from 
Berlin; something between them must have been unfamiliar. I 
thought of Muriel Goodwin in the living room working on the 
washcloth, one of the set they would use when they eventually started 
housekeeping again. She had always been crocheting for Mel Good- 
win, but I had never dreamed that I, too, would be crocheted into 
Airs. Goodwin's washcloth, somewhere on the margin, and that 
Dottie Peale would be a part of it as well. That episode in Paris had 
meant more than it should have to Mel Goodwin. I was more 
convinced than ever that he had not recovered from it in a normal 

"Say, Sid," the General said, when we were walking down the hall 
to the library, "I was thinking of a poem last night." 
"What?" I asked. "Push of? and sitting well in order smite?" 
I was certainly mixed up with the crocheting and there was no 
rank any longer, because the situation had grown fluid. 

"No, no," the General said, "Fm referring to Kipling's 'If.* " He 
stopped and I knew I was going to hear a piece of it. "The part that 


goes this way. . . ." He was almost but not quite standing at atten- 

// you can dream — and not ma\e dreams your master; 
If you can thin\ — and not make thoughts your aim; 
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same. . . . 

He was looking beyond me, not at me. I was thinking how heavily 
obvious that poem had always seemed to me, but it still fitted Mel- 
ville Goodwin. 

"Well, what's that got to do with anything?" I asked him. 
"Where's there any disaster?" 

The lines around his mouth had hardened. Compared with his ex- 
pression out of doors, he looked as though he were ten years older. 

"Listen, son," he said. "You never want to underestimate a situa- 
tion. Never discount disaster." 

I could not tell whether he was thinking of World War II or of 
Dottie Peak, and I did not want to ask him. 

"Come on," he said, "I want to get this over. One thing at a time, 
son, one thing at a time." 



War Is Hell — in Alexandria or Anywhere Else 

I followed the General into the library and closed the door. He 
had a well-compartmented mind that could move effortlessly from 
one thing to another. 

"Let's get this thing cleaned up, Phil," he said. "I have to be in 
New York by five o'clock. That means leaving here by three forty- 
five. Make a note of it, will you, Flax, and take it up with Mrs. 
Skelton. Where did we break off last night?" 

"You were back in Washington," Phil Bendey told him, "in the 
summer of 1941." 

Melville Goodwin laughed and sat down by the fireplace. 

"It was really hot that summer," he said. "Everyone, as I remem- 
ber, was sort of crazy with the heat. . . ." 

In the final draft of his profile, Phil Bentley came up with only a 
paragraph on Melville Goodwin's pre-Pearl Harbor experiences. 

With his deceptively boyish smile that softened but did not obscure the 
tough corners of his mouth, Melville Goodwin described those months of 
shoestring improvisations and basic organizational blueprinting as fol- 
lows: "The whole crowd were like jugglers in a three-ring circus, keep- 
ing pie plates in the air. No sooner did you catch one than you had to 
get rid of it in time to get the next one that the Old Man was scaling 
at you — and you couldn't break them either. It was lucky for me I was 
a fast mover." 

He meant by this that he was a sort of liaison trouble shooter down 
in Washington, shuttling back and forth among high echelons, be- 
cause A. C. Grimshaw, who had already attained a temporary two- 


star rank, began using him more and more as a second pair of legs 
and eyes. Grimshaw would send him as his representative to policy 
conferences on training and plans, and he did a lot of doubling and 
tripling in brass that summer. He never mentioned Muriel's place in 
this picture to Phil Bentley, but he did take up the subject of Muriel 
with me privately. 

Muriel, he said, came right up from Benning to Washington to 
win the war, and they had a few differences of opinion as to where 
he should fit in the scheme of things. Washington was quite a place, 
Mel Goodwin said, for an army girl that summer. Anyone who had 
what it took was bound to get more rank, and if you had some time 
for a little daydreaming, which he hadn't, you could dream yourself 
right up to four stars. Of course the whole town was overcrowded, 
not alone with service personnel, but with dizzy New Deal civilians 
who were beginning to spin like dancing mice when Congress began 
upping the appropriations. Though he was assigned to duty under 
Grimshaw at the Department, he could not rustle up any living 
quarters for Muriel and young Charley and it was lucky Robert was 
at the Point. He had wanted Muriel and Charley to stay where it 
was cool until he could at least find out what the score was. He even 
suggested that Muriel might take Charley to Hallowell to visit her 
mother, who was living all alone in the house there since Mr. Reece's 
death. He could not very well afford to keep them in some Wash- 
ington hotel on his pay, and though Muriel and her mother never 
did get on well sharing a house together — because each of them was 
always taking over without consulting the other — he did hope 
Muriel would keep out of Washington for a while — not that he 
would not miss her. 

He pointed out to her in several long letters, which he should not 
have spared the time to write, what with all the reports and direc- 
tives he was always drafting for the boss, that he had no time for 
family life anyway. When he was not being sent somewhere around 
the country, he was at the Department during all his waking hours. 
Whenever he got back to the room he had occupied in "Shorty" 
Telfer's apartment, he was in his sack in five minutes. Shorty was on 
the training program then, and Shorty was so tired at night that his 


wife Beatrice couldn't get a word out of him, and even if there had 
been time for family evenings, you couldn't tell your wife what was 
going on, because everything was classified. 

Of course he must have known subconsciously that Muriel would 
never keep out of Washington. However, he did think that she 
might have warned him that she was coming instead of just appear- 
ing at Shorty's apartment with Charley as though she had been air- 
borne. It meant that for five days Muriel and Beatrice had to share 
the main bedroom while Shorty took over the guest room and Mel- 
ville had the studio couch and Charley used a bedding roll on the 
living room floor. They all used one bathroom, and he was always 
forgetting about Charley and tripping over the bedding roll when he 
got home at night. 

Finally, of course, they did get settled, because Muriel called up 
Enid, Bud Joyce's wife, whom she had not seen since Schofield. Bud 
had rented a little house in Alexandria, and Enid told them to move 
right in with them and share expenses, even before she took it up 
with Bud. He never forgot old Bud's expression when he came home 
to find the whole Goodwin family spread out, but then he had done 
Bud a good turn when Bud had begun feuding with "Bing" Bishop 
at Schofield. Besides, Bud was always a good sport, and he and Enid 
had always wanted a boy, and there was Charley. Bud's only remark 
was that war was hell in Alexandria or anywhere else. As a matter 
of fact, Bud and Enid kept Muriel and Charley right there through 
the whole war, and they were all still good friends at the end of it, 
though he never understood how they had managed it. 

There was another complication when Muriel came to Washing- 
ton. As Bud said, the gals made up a general staff of their own and 
began doing long-term planning. Bud, with his desk at G-2, and 
limited duty because of disability, was not much for Enid and Muriel 
to work on, but Melville was really good material for two bright 
girls. He had done all right at the Tank School and Leavenworth 
and the War College, and Muriel's thinking was always around the 
top of the heap. Still, if there was going to be a war, he did not want 
to be on any staff. As he pointed out to Muriel, somebody had to 
fight the war, but Muriel wanted him to be nearer the top and more 

3 8o 

on the administrative side, where the big brass might notice him, in- 
stead of being lost in some training area. When they wanted some- 
one, she said, it was only human nature to look around and pick 
someone in sight rather than someone buried down in Texas. He did 
not have time to discuss these matters with Muriel except occasion- 
ally when they went for a walk on Sunday, but Muriel had lots of 
time to consider them. 

One night in August when he had a few minutes alone with the 
chief in his office, he brought up the subject of the southern maneu- 
vers and expressed a sort of wish, as definitely as you could express 
such a thing, that he might get down there with a regiment or some- 
thing, but Grimshaw only said that he was needed right where he 
was and the situation was still fluid. 

"And besides," he said, "I may be wrong, but I think Muriel has 
some pretty sound ideas about you. Why don't you leave things to 
Muriel and me?" 

They had recently spent two Sundays at the Grimshaws*. When 
the General had the time, he liked to get a small crowd around and 
cook hamburgers in his back yard at Georgetown, and Muriel was 
very proficient with outdoor grills. He certainly did not want the 
General to think that he differed with Muriel, and it was quite a 
problem to think up an answer. 

"Muriel really can cook hamburgers, sir," he said. "Muriel can stir 
up anything." 

He was relieved that the Chief seemed to see what he meant. 

"Don't you worry about Muriel," the General said. "Muriel in- 
tuitively knows what's cooking." 

Grimshaw always did have a quiet sense of humor. 

"Yes, sir, she certainly does," Melville said, "but I don't want her 
to overdo me on both sides." 

This was about as far as he could go, even with anyone like Grim- 

"Mel," the Old Man said, "Muriel never overdoes anything, but 
maybe you and I both had better go down and look over those ma- 
neuvers. I may be wrong, but we might both get a few ideas." 

It was the best news he had heard in a long while. You never knew 


how the Chief was going to jump. Actually, when they were down 
there he was able to fix things so that he did something with simu- 
lated tanks before he was yanked back to Washington. You could 
never tell what was in the Chief's mind, and he never knew why he 
was being kept on ice. When he asked for a job in the Philippines 
just before Pearl Harbor, the Chief turned him down flat, and twice 
that winter when he asked for something in the Pacific, the Chief 
turned him down again. Grimshaw was never a Pacific man. By the 
spring of '42 he was still sweating it out there in Washington, when 
suddenly the Chief sent him out to Arizona to observe desert maneu- 
vers, but not to take command of anything. He only got the connec- 
tion when work began on "Torch" and he was promoted to tempo- 
rary colonel. Muriel was beginning to find him pretty hard to hold 
when they were in the middle of the North African planning, but it 
was not until September that the Chief said the word, and then he 
dropped it casually. 

"Mel," he said, "some of you younger fellows will have to be going 
over. Maybe you'd better start thinking about packing." 

Two weeks later his orders were cut for Paisley, where they were 
training the armor, and the best thing about it was that Muriel had 
known nothing whatsoever about it. She had cried half the night 
when she heard he was going to Paisley because she was certain he 
would be lost down there. There were lots of rumors, but "Torch" 
was all top secret. The truth was Muriel did not want him to be 
killed, and it did no good to point out to her that it was about time 
someone did a little fighting. 

Her feelings were hurt when he gave her the word that she had 
better stay with Bud and Enid and not go to all the trouble of follow- 
ing him down to Paisley. 

"But you'll be there for a year," she said, "before you go overseas." 

Muriel could not be right about everything. She only got the point 
when he flew up to Washington to say good-by, and of course she 
could not ask him where he was going. Secret orders never did help 
home life, and curiously enough, Charley was the one who came 
closest to guessing it, because Charley was a smart kid. He had just 
turned fourteen and he really followed the war news. 


"Say, Dad," he said, "I'll bet you're going after Rommel." 

He always remembered this. Charley thought a lot of him and 
knew he could lick anyone. 

"No," he answered, "I'm going up to the North Pole to help out 
Santa Claus." 

"Shucks," Charley said, "you wouldn't be packing khaki pants 
along with your woolens if you were going to see Santa Claus." 

Charley was smart and he had narrowed down the operation. The 
only thing to tell him was to believe in Santa Claus and to take care 
of his mother. Actually he had only an hour or two to talk over plans 
and this was just as well. Sitting there in the living room in Alexan- 
dria looking at Muriel and Charley, he realized how big the break 
was going to be, even though it was something for which they had 
all been waiting. He and Muriel had been together ever since he had 
come back from the AEF. They had been everywhere as a family 
unit, even as far as Tientsin, and now it was all over. There would be 
no Muriel where he was going, to guide him or to talk to the boss. It 
was quite a thing to consider, quite a thing. 

"Muriel," he said, "don't you think it would be best for you and 
Charley to go up to Hallowell?" 

"No," Charley said, "Ma gets into arguments with Grandma." 

"We don't get into arguments, Charley," Muriel said, "but your 
grandmother is an old lady and she has rather fixed ideas. The 
schools are better in Washington, and maybe I can be of some help 
here in Washington. At least I'll be able to get some news." 

Still North Africa was quite a way from Washington. 

"All right," he said, "and say good-by to Robert for me, won't you ? 
Tell Robert to keep his nose clean, will you?" 

"You always pick up coarse expressions," Muriel said, "when you 
get away with troops." 

"Well," he said, "he'll know what I mean." 

"And what's your final advice to me?" Muriel asked. "What about 
my own nose?" 

"Muriel," he said, "you always did have a pretty nose." 

"I wish you wouldn't behave as though you were going to a sur- 
prise party," Muriel said. 


"Damn it, Muriel," he said, "you don't want me to cry, do you?" 

"I just don't want you to act as though you were going on a vaca- 
tion," Muriel said. 

He could feel the tension and he was glad Charley was there be- 
cause it eased things somewhat, and it was unsettling to see that 
Muriel was on the verge of tears. 

"Come now, Muriel," he said, "you wouldn't want me to be out of 
this show." 

"For heaven's sakes, don't make a little speech," Muriel said. "I 
just wish you didn't make me think . . ." she stopped a moment 
. . . "that you're glad I won't be around." 

"Now, Muriel," was all he could think of saying, "now Muriel." 

"Melly," she said, "you're all I have." 

"Now, Muriel," he said, "you've got the boys." 

The mention of the boys pulled everything together, and besides, 
Muriel was a service wife who knew a wife must not upset things 
when the army was off to war. 

"Forget what I said, will you, Melly," she told him. "Of course 
you're not glad you're going — except at the same time you can't 
help but be." 

"Now, Muriel," he said, "now, Muriel." 

"And now we're on the subject," she said, "just see you keep your 
own nose clean." 

He saw plenty of other farewells. You could not avoid them when 
they took place, openly, all around you in every railroad station. 
They always created a personnel problem whenever troops were 
alerted for overseas, and every one of those scenes was characteristic 
of all the others. There was a staff sergeant, for instance, at Paisley 
named Cathgart, a well-set-up kid who had a lot of the army in him 
in spite of his having been an insurance agent on the outside. When 
the train was moving east from Paisley to the embarkation point, 
Mel Goodwin stepped off to get some air at some Middle Western 
whistle stop and there he saw Cathgart kissing a girl who was down 
at the station passing coffee for the USO and who acted like a wife, 
and he hoped she was, because she had a little two-year-old golden- 


haired kid with her. He never asked how Cathgart had arranged to 
have her meet the train. The man had broken security to do it, but 
sometimes it was advisable not to take cognizance of everything. At 
any rate there were Cathgart and the girl and the child in a three- 
way clinch on the platform, and when the word was given to get 
aboard again, Cathgart was sobbing like a baby, and he sent word to 
Cathgart to report to him in his compartment up in front. It was 
funny how you began traveling in style once there was a war. He 
had rated a private car and a driver at Paisley and plane priorities 
when he took trips from Washington. He rated a drawing room now 
because he had to do routine administrative business on the train. 

"Listen, son," he said to Cathgart, "I happened to see you outside 

"Yes, sir," Cathgart said. "Christ, sir, I had no idea she would be 

"Oh, hell," Melville Goodwin told him, "that's all right, Cathgart, 
but everybody in this outfit has to say good-by to somebody. I had to 
say good-by to my own wife in Washington. I know how it takes it 
out of you, but we all go through it. Just remember that, and if you 
feel bad, son, and if you want to talk about it, just take your weight 
off your feet and light up a cigarette and tell me." 

"Thanks a lot, sir," Cathgart said. "It just got me, seeing Milly." 

"So her name's Milly, is it?" Melville Goodwin said. 

"Yes, sir," Cathgart said, and then he went on for a while about 
Milly. It seemed that he had married Milly three years before, at a 
time when he was selling farm machinery. 

"Well, here's something else to remember, son," Melville Goodwin 
told him. "We're all teammates, no matter what the rank, and no- 
body lets a teammate down." It never hurt to let men know you were 
a human being. 

God hacl kept him safe so that he could hear the guns again, and 
now he had his chance to pay his debt to God and to his country. 
There was no wonder that he looked as though he were going to a 
party, as Muriel had said. He had been working for quite a while to 
get dressed up for that party. He was not a shavetail any longer. He 


had been to the War College with its extremely limited and selected 
enrollment of officers who were almost certain to become top brass. 
He had the equipment to make a stab at any job that was handed to 
him. There had been a lot of white-haired boys in tough competition 
at Paisley, and he had been able to keep his place. What was more, 
he learned when he got to Africa that he was able to say to hell 
with all this accumulated knowledge when necessary. He meant that 
he was not weighed down by all his intellectual equipment, like these 
pedants or theorists who bored the hell out of sensible people. By the 
time North Africa was secure, even though he got a shell fragment 
in his shoulder before the show was over (which fortunately did not 
keep him off the beach where those damned Greek temples stood 
near Salerno), he was pretty handy. 

Frequently you had to learn fast in North Africa if you wanted to 
be around next day to absorb more knowledge. Uncle Sam needed 
every horseshoe he had in his pockets for that operation — with the 
best units still green and none of them battle-wise. Sometimes he felt 
like old Rip van Winkle himself when he saw the self-propelled guns 
and the tanks and the jeeps and the trucks and the tactical air cover 
and compared them with the stuff around Chateau-Thierry in the 
other war. Nevertheless the basic elements were all the same, and all 
the old logistics headaches. 

After the landing he was up ahead on the way to Tunis with a 
tank unit known by the code word "Force Goodwin" — but there 
was no use being technical about groupings. If they didn't reach 
Tunis before the Jerries, you could blame it on the mud and roads, 
because they certainly tried like hell to make that play. He began to 
realize in a few days that you had to blow every instrument in the 
band. When it came to a pinch, you had to be an artilleryman or an 
engineer or a tank specialist, and you never knew how things would 
be balanced or grouped from one day to the next. 

North Africa, in spite of its Frenchified cities, looked like some- 
thing in a Sunday school picture book. He had read in ancient his- 
tory that the country was semiarid, whereas, books to the contrary, 
it was always raining when you wanted air cover, and the gumbo on 
the roads was like glue — but somehow there was always good 

3 86 

weather and good footing for the Jerries and the Italians. The Arabs 
fitted right into that mess. They could have the country any time as 
far as he was concerned, and anybody who wanted could have the 
Arabs. They were always around everywhere like flies. 

Once when he was a whole lot farther away from everything than 
he should have been, trying to get a look himself at a German con- 
centration — because nobody had sent any coherent word back — he 
and a walkie-talkie boy were suddenly pinned down by machine-gun 
fire. Just as he was trying to figure out some way to get some solid 
terrain between his party and the gun and was hoping the Krauts 
weren't going to open up with the mortars next, he felt a pull at his 
leg. You might have thought it was someone in the group with a 
bright idea about something, but instead of that it was one of those 
Arabs trying to sell him half a dozen eggs. That was the way it al- 
ways was with Arabs. They came right out of the ground like prairie 
dogs, and when they weren't selling something, they were stealing, 
but he did not mean to deliver a travelogue. He never did see much 
of North Africa except for various portions into which his nose had 
been rubbed. 

If he wanted, he could give a good lecture about Kasserine Pass, 
where we came so near to being pushed back on our behinds, but 
now he was not talking before the War College. His tanks and some 
other units that came under his command took a whipping there, but 
they pulled out all right, and maybe he had a little to do with this. 
Anyway, some people still thought that he had. 

In order to refresh his memory about North Africa and subsequent 
operations, the General produced a packet of letters which he had 
written home and which Muriel had brought from Washington after 
hearing he was to be interviewed. He read excerpts from them to 
Philip Bentley and lent the whole lot to me later, and, though the 
letters did not shed much more light on North Africa, in certain 
ways they did help to round out the Goodwin picture. 

Dear Muriel, 

Babe, who just dropped in to say good-by, says he will give you this 
on his return to Washington, if he doesn't wet his feet. Don't ask Babe 
about his future plans because they won't be bright, if you know what 


I mean. The poor guy just hasn't got what it takes out here, and he's on 
his way out. Poor Babe. I am replacing him, and naturally it hurts like 
hell. Funny, isn't it? Remember how you used to say you wished I got 
around the way Babe did? Well, well. 

I don't need any socks or anything. Just now dry goods, including 
brassieres, are running out our ears. However, if you can pick up a hand- 
ful of new westerns and whodunnits, give them to Bud to give to Gerald 
if he's still in there with the Chief. Gerald can wangle them out here, but 
say to hold them with Smitty at Algiers. Maybe I'll get back to that 
dream town someday and hang out in the Aletti — maybe. They have 
sawed-off beer bottles for glassware there and wrapping paper for nap- 
kins, all except the Limey boys, who have silver and napery. Well, well. 
Whoever said Africa was hot? It's all mud. I'm even holed up in a mud 
hut with a mud wall around it. Goats jump over the wall and get in the 
yard. We ate goat yesterday and it still stays with me. Just now I picked 
a piece of him out of my back molar. Slim sends you his regards. He's a 
real comfort to me. If you're writing to Katie Burwell, tell her from me 
that Jim did fine. There wasn't enough of poor old Jim to pick up, and 
a piece of him landed on my helmet, but you needn't tell her that. 

It's cold as Greenland here but last week it was hot in certain sectors. 
Don't worry about me and don't go around asking questions. I'm feeling 
fine, and everything's beginning to get in the groove. You know I've 
always liked this stuff, and everybody else here is beginning to like it. 
By God, they'd better. It's building up, and if they want to slap us down, 
they'd better do it quick. I have a hunch they're going to make a try 
for it, but don't ask questions. Old Heinzy called me in last night, five 
miles in the mud, and all the usual yakety-yak. I hope he doesn't drop 
it if he's given the ball. 

It's nice to think of you in Washington. Give Charley my love and tell 
him we raised our little boy to be a soldier, and please tell Bob if he wants 
to try for the Pacific it won't hurt my feelings. It looks as though they 
need a little help there. There's something itching and I'd better read my 
shirt a while. We're out of lice powder. 

Love, and don't worry, 


Dear Muriel, 

Shorty, who is going over to have a little talk about certain things that 
have happened, says he will get this to you, but don't go trying to get 

3 88 

hold of him. He's got a lot on his mind. Oh yes, I'm in the base hospital 
with a piece of hardware in my shoulder, but I'm walking around already 
and playing gin rummy with the other hand, so don't worry. I was lucky 
not to get my block blown off, and I walked out of it under my own 
steam, without running to the nearest exit, and no one else did either. 
They were a fine selfless bunch of kids. All they need is a little straight 
talk and they'll do anything. 

If you read the papers maybe you'll know what all this is about. I'd 
like to read the communique myself. It will have to be a masterpiece be- 
cause we really got a bloody nose and a few right in the guts — and 
maybe the Limeys rather like seeing us over the barrel. The orders were 
to pull out and it was pretty late to pull. I took over the cover-up job, be- 
tween you and me, without consulting Heinzy. It looked for a while like 
old Custer making a last stand with a lot of Sitting Bulls around us. In 
fact I thought maybe I was going to be Custer, but they dug in when I 
got some heavy stuff around their right end. I mean they thought it was 
heavy, and we walked off. Slim got himself killed, you may have heard. 
There never was a finer kid. Please write Edwina that I'm writing per- 
sonally. Who do you think I saw when I walked off? Old Folsom, my 
Tac at the Point. Do you remember? The one who told us to stroll on 
Flirtation Walk. He was dead — air strafing — but I had time to gather 
up some of his letters and things personally. You see the hardware in the 
shoulder didn't slow me up, so don't worry and don't start pulling strings. 
I am not going Stateside because I shall be fit for duty in three weeks. I 
got the word this morning. 

By the way, they came around this afternoon and pinned something 
on me and took some pictures. You can ask the Chief about it if you 
want. He or Gerald ought to have the details by now. Now don't worry, 
I'm feeling fine. I'm reading Agatha Christie when I'm not playing gin 
rummy. The word is the shoulder won't even be stiff. Give my love to 
Charley and Robert. 

With love, 


This letter was all he had ever set down regarding his part in the 
Kasserine Pass action, except for his report and recommendations 
now somewhere on file in the Pentagon, and a report would have 
been too technical to have made much sense — and he was not giving 
any military lecture anyway. The staff work was faulty, and a lot of 

389 . 

people in back got the wind up. It was easy enough to give orders 
for a quick withdrawal, if you were sitting somewhere looking at 
maps — but this was off the record and he was not going to expert 
anything that happened. The order to withdraw came through at 
three in the morning — when anyone physically in touch with any- 
thing could see that there would have to be some sort of holding 
action along the high ground on the front known as Area 20, which 
overlooked a track along which the enemy would obviously move 
part of his armor. It was an elementary problem of buying time. 
When Melville Goodwin received the order, his chief, Arty Watson, 
who was commanding the area, saw as clearly as he did that a com- 
plete withdrawal would leave everything wide open. He had no 
criticism to make of Arty Watson, who immediately began sending 
back everything that was feasible, but half an hour later mortar and 
eighty-eight fire began dropping on them. 

Mel Goodwin was still with his chief trying to straighten things 
out when one of those eighty-eights landed under a weapons carrier, 
and a minute later he was chief. He sent back everything that wasn't 
needed, and by the time it was daylight he was alone with his combat 
team all dug in, plus three one-fifty-fives and four tanks, one of them 
disabled. It was light enough by that time to secure some informa- 
tion. The Jerries were coming right down the track just where he 
expected them, tanks and trucks and everything, evidently thinking 
that it was clear ahead. Sometimes the Jerries weren't as bright as you 
thought they were going to be, considering their experience. It was 
something to remember, watching that column snaking toward their 
position over that Godforsaken country, with the sun just rising. 
The only problem was how to stop them for an appreciable period of 
time, and he waited until they were on the level ground in front be- 
fore he let them have it with everything available. They were like 
sitting ducks, only there were just too many ducks. Nevertheless they 
certainly acted surprised, and their whole column was in an unholy 
mess. He always believed that if there had been more fire power 
available they might have turned back permanently. As it was, they 
overestimated his force, and they were confused when he got his 
tanks firing into them well on the left. It* took personal persuasion 


to keep everything cracking, but just the same, it was a good fight. 
He only wished he could have had more time to observe it instead of 
being so continually busy. 

At any rate by afternoon what was left of his group was still hold- 
ing the high ground in Area 20. They had bought the time, and 
there was no use hanging around any longer. When the sun was set- 
ting, he sent back everything that could roll, and the rest of them 
began walking and they walked all night until they were picked up 
around daylight. He had brought off the wounded, but a lot of 
equipment and dead remained back in Area 20. He was not familiar 
with all of the night's events. His shoulder had been bandaged and 
it had stopped bleeding, but the wound may have made him light- 
headed. Nevertheless he kept everything under control all the way 
personally, and he could still put one foot ahead of the other when 
he walked into headquarters and made the report. His memory was 
vague as to just what he said, but other people told him later, prob- 
ably making it into a good story. 

The story was that he saluted old Heinzy, which he probably did, 
since his right hand was all right, and then he said: 

"There's been a little trouble up in Area 20, sir, but we'd all like to 
start going back as soon as we've had some coffee." 

That was what they said he said, and it made a good story, but he 
never could have said anything like that to a major general who 
knew the score. Nevertheless he always did think that they should 
have moved forward instead of pulling back farther. There was noth- 
ing in any of this to be proud of because he was paid to work out 
problems like Area 20, but there was one thing he did remember that 
pleased him. When he walked out of the headquarters — and he was 
still walking — he heard a master sergeant say, "The God-damned 
fighting bastard." 

That meant a lot to him, coming when it did, because his shoulder 
was full of red-hot needles and his left arm was numb. The man who 
had spoken was standing with three or four others beside a jeep, and 
Mel Goodwin walked right up to him. 

"Son," he said, "if I go first, I'd like to have you write those words 
on my tombstone." 


This was true, whether or not it made a good story, and he did not 
care who knew it. 

He was in the hospital when Task Force Headquarters was reor- 
ganized. In May he did desk work in Algiers because the medics 
were still checking on his shoulder. He got his star in June '43 but 
did not see the Sicilian show or any more fighting until he was on 
the beach at Salerno as an assistant division commander. He was a 
specialist in armor by then and he knew it. When he was yanked out 
and sent to England to take command of the Silver Leaf Armored 
and whip it into shape in preparation for the cross-Channel invasion, 
he knew that he was equipped to take armor anywhere, anytime and 
anyhow, and that was all there was to it. He did not want to be 
technical, but he did know quite a little about contemporary war- 
fare, and why not? He had spent most of his life studying war and 
he had been presented with fine opportunities to perfect himself in 
practice. He wrote some of his thoughts in a letter to his wife in 
April 1944, and perhaps the letter would cover most of what he had 
to say. 

Dear Muriel, 

I don't see what harm there is when you get this in asking the Chief or 
Gerald or somebody to tell you confidentially if they can what they've 
pinned on me over here. I don't mean any more chest spinach either, 
though sometimes they do seem to pass decorations here as easily as we 
used to pass the buck. I mean the job they handed to me. Old Skeet 
Shaw felt kind of upset when he got the word to turn it over to me, 
and I felt kind of mean about taking it from Skeet after he had shown 
me around, but you know Skeet, and he knows we have to take what's 
dished out to us on this picnic. Skeet said he would rather have it me 
than anybody else and he said kind words about me to the officers when 
he turned it over. The kids don't seem to mind the idea of having some- 
one who's been there before help them get shaken down. They are nice 
kids, and Skeet has done a lot of pulling and hauling on them so they 
look about as much in the groove as they can be until they get their try- 
out. By the way, Bugsy Waters and Long John Gooch are both here with 
me. We're making up into quite a team. I even like the padres. They 
look like athletic babies who will hand out the good word right. 


Do you remember when we bought Robert the electric train the Christ- 
mas we were stationed at Sykes and Bob didn't know he was going to 
get it, in spite of the carpenter setting up the table and Gooding work- 
ing on the electrical gadgets? Do you remember how Bob looked, just 
as though the train and the tracks had dropped out of the sky, and how 
he kept walking around and around in a sort of daze as though he 
couldn't believe it and then how we couldn't pry him loose from that 
electric train for weeks? Well, that's how I feel about this Thing and all 
the lovely gadgets that go with it. I feel just like a kid at Christmas and 
maybe sometimes I act that way. I keep getting up in the middle of the 
night and hopping in a jeep just to see it's all pinned down and hasn't 
moved somewhere else. I keep wanting to go right over across the street 
and try it out on the other gang. Believe me, it's going to be good, and 
I think I'm going to know how to work it. I ought to after that Italian 
business, even if I finally bust a gut. Well, you go and ask the Chief, and 
you might tell Bob and Charley that they really handed the old man 
something. It won't hurt them to know that the old man has kind of 
made good on his own and that some people think well of him for all 
the scrabbling around he's done out here. I sort of wish you were here 
to see it. 

Old Baldy is the number one in these parts, as maybe you can imagine 
if you've been talking to the Chief. The other night he asked a couple of 
us to his little shanty to dinner — it looked as though it belonged to a 
duke or something — to show us off to the Big Boy himself and some of 
the little big boys who were with him. I hadn't seen Big Boy since North 
Africa and he's grown some. Funny our paths never crossed, but you 
remember what Pershing said about him? He'd never known him either. 
Anyway, you'll be pleased to know he chewed the fat with me for sev- 
eral minutes and asked me to look him up if I was ever around the big 
city. I won't if I can help it. I'm an outdoor boy, and the high echelons 
always make me sweat, and when I sweat I stink. I can just hear you 
saying I always get coarse when I'm with troops. Everybody sends you 
their love, though, and a lot of them remember old times. 

I laughed to read about you and Enid and the picture puzzles. Life is 
quite a picture puzzle in itself, isn't it? — one you never finish because 
something's always jiggling the table. Just take it easy now. I'm doing 
fine. All that worries me is that this island may sink with what we've 
got on it, even with the barrage balloons to hold it up, but that's an old 
one, isn't it? I'm glad Bob's moving out. I wish I might have seen him, 


but tell him from me I know he'll be good. How could he help it, con- 
sidering who his mama is? The washcloths will come in handy the next 
time I have to hit the dirt. Give Charley a slap in the pants and tell him 
I'll write him tomorrow. 

With love, 


There were some other letters, too, but this one seemed pretty well 
to cover the situation. Anyone who had been in preinvasion England 
could add in all the color himself. Old P. T. Barnum should have 
been alive to have seen it because it really was the greatest show on 
earth. It was something to be a part of that show and to have been 
right in the first team with the Silver Leaf Armored and with the 
teammates. It was a page of history, and if he was just one of the 
punctuation marks, still he was on the page, and anyone could read 
it without his doing much further talking. However, in case any- 
thing more was needed, he did have a newspaper clipping which he 
could show for what it was worth. He never suspected at the time 
that he was talking for publication, since he was not one of those 
field runners who made the papers, and there were too many stars 
anyway on that all-star, all-American team. Yet maybe this was not 
accurate — the British were on the team, too. At any rate when a 
newspaper correspondent named Al Crouch came around, Mel Good- 
win never thought seriously that this would mean any kind of 
feature article, and after all, it only appeared in the Sunday supple- 
ment of a newspaper in upstate New York, but it might as well be 
included in the record. 

Actually it made me a little homesick for the great days when I 
read it. Its journalistic language was characteristic of those days, and 
I had participated in many similar efforts when I had been in Public 
Relations. I could remember no correspondent named Al Crouch, 
but then, accredited correspondents were as thick as flies before the 
invasion. It was utterly characteristic that he did not call himself 
Albert Crouch, but just plain Al. All those correspondents were al- 
ways abbreviating their first names. They had to be tough even if 
they were 4-F and wore glasses. The dispatch was simply dated 


"Somewhere in England, 1944," and it had appeared in print only 
after the invasion. The headline was "Al Crouch Looks Them 
Over " 

Your correspondent took a busman's holiday today, spending his time 
visiting, instead of an Air Force outfit, an American armored division 
on a wind-swept English moor. He had the good fortune, on dropping 
into its headquarters, an uninvited guest, to ran smack into its com- 
manding officer, Major General Melville A. Goodwin. 

Some division! 

If you have been around for a while on this tight little island you get 
hep to an outfit that's ready and rarin' to go, and, oh brother, this one 
was prancin'! And when you've rattled around enough among the big 
brass hats, you get to know when a man's a real guy. 

Some guy, this cocky young fighting divisional CO, with his words 
that hit you like a punch in the midriff and his infectious, boyish 

Some guy, this Mel Goodwin, right from the top of his battle-buffeted 
helmet with the two stars riveted on it, down to the toes of his GI shoes. 
No funny business — all fight and a yard wide! 

Maybe you folks around Syracuse have never heard of Mel. It's your 
loss if you haven't, but the Mel Goodwins that make this army strut its 
stuff aren't the kind you see at peacetime tea parties or handing out E 
award pins. In case you haven't heard of Mel Goodwin, here's the pitch, 
as Colonel "Long John" Gooch, his chief of staff, handed it to me hot 
off the griddle. 

Melville A. Goodwin, born in the tiny town of Hallowell, New Hamp- 
shire (ever hear of it? I hadn't), where his father was for many years 
the local druggist and where young Mel once jerked a few sodas him- 
self (but maybe this ought to be off the record!). Young Mel got out of 
West Point just in time to knock out two German machine guns per- 
sonally in World War I, and win the DSC and Croix de guerre with 
palm. He may not mention it himself, but he got all these things again 
in World War II and a shoulder wound for refusing to be evacuated in 
a little mix-up with some of Rommel's bad boys, and then a couple of 
swift one-twos at Salerno. 

"Hell," he says, with that smile of his, "forget about the ribbons, son! 
I think perhaps they shower down a little easier when you get pushed 
up to the top of the heap." Anyway, no GI in that armored outfit would 


agree with him. As Staff Sergeant Milton I. Hawker (Rochester, N. Y.) 
put it, when I brought up the subject, "That guy doesn't look in mirrors. 
He doesn't have to use mirrors." 

At any rate, I ran smack into "that guy" just as I reached headquar- 
ters, and the word is you run into "that guy" everywhere. This division 
is definitely his baby, and every one of its GIs is one of Mel Goodwin's 
kids. Don't ask me how. 

"Well, son," he said to me, "tag along if you want to look around." 

We just hopped into a nearby jeep. The General did the driving him. 
self, a lot of it on two wheels. 

Funnily enough, everybody seemed glad to see "that guy" whenever 
he stopped the jeep. He just fitted in naturally with the GIs. For in* 
stance, there was Pfc. Martin J. Flynn (Albany, N. Y.) taking a BAR 
to pieces. 

"Here, son," General Goodwin said, "let's see if I can still do that." 
A little group gathered around him just like kids watching teacher. 
"I haven't fussed around with one of those things since Africa," he 
said, tossing the BAR back to Pfc. Flynn. "It's nice to know I can still 
do it. It may be useful to me where we're going in case I see one lying 

This one got a good laugh. 

With all that automatic fire power — the General pointed out to that 
serious-faced little group — all you had to do was to spray it out in front 
of you and keep walking. 

"And I'll be walking with you," he said, "whenever we aren't riding. 
We'll just stop now and then and stretch our legs this summer. Sum- 
mer's a great season over in France — in case we should be going there." 

This got another laugh. He could really tickle the boys. 

"Of course it might be that one or two of us may sprain an ankle," 
he said, "but there'll be nurses to massage it and you can take it from 
me, a lot of very sharp-looking nurses are coming over." 

And so it went for three hours all up and down the line. Hard-bitten, 
tanned, alert Mel Goodwin had the old army "pro" stamped over every 
inch of him. In spite of that quiet kidding manner, he always had the 
authority. He had so much that he could handle it carelessly, just as I 
have seen an old bar fly hold a glass. That was why he could rub shoul- 
ders with the toughest GI in the outfit, drop into a company mess hall 
as we did, scrounge a cup of hot java and sit exchanging salty wisecracks 
with the mess "sarge" and the KPs. 


As Corporal Wally Sterner (Bath, N. Y.) laughingly confided: "You 
kinda don't mind the fact he's got stars and all the chicken gut over his 
left pocket." 

A private with a paintbrush was stenciling initials on the side of a 
truck — RTA. 

"What's that?" I asked. 

Mel Goodwin regarded the truck quizzically. 

"It's sort of alphabet soup," he quipped, "but it's the division motto — 
Right There Anyhow — RTA. Maybe it sounds simple to you, but com- 
bat is a pretty simple thing. In fact you can sum it up in just one word." 

"What word?" I inquired curiously. 

His eyes looked cold and icy blue. Maybe his mind was moving across 
the Channel to the Great Adventure. 

"Guts," he said, "four letters, son. Don't laugh at it." 

I did not laugh at it because it sounded all right coming from Major 
General Mel Goodwin on that wind-swept British moor. 

"American troops when handled by competent command are in my 
opinion the best soldiers in the world," he said. "I think I know how 
to lead troops, with God's help. Sometimes in battle you get pretty close 
to God. What was it the Marine said? There ain't no atheists in foxholes. 
Yes, son, you wake up sometimes at night and think a lot of lonely 
thoughts when you wear stars and face the fact that you're in charge of 
all these men, with no excuses and only yourself to blame. I hope I know 
my business because I think I've got the best damned division in the 
world. I mean I \nowT 

Then his mood changed. First he smiled and then he laughed. 

"Hell," he said, "I wouldn't swap my job for Eisenhower's. You see, 
I like it here." 

You had the feeling that everything in General Goodwin's division 
was squared away — oh, oh, I didn't mean to use navy talk. 

Well, anyway, come D day, H hour and M minute, this scribe knows 
one rootin', tootin', shootin' outfit that's going to hit the beach and one 
general who isn't going to do his fighting in any dugout. When I left 
them the sun was going down, the bugles were sounding retreat, and 
Mel Goodwin was saluting his flag. There was a lump in my throat 
when I drove away from there, but my chin was a little higher. I was 
a little prouder that I was an American and I was good and mad, too, 
mad at that army doctor who found that I had a heart murmur and flat 
feet. You see, really and truly I wanted to go Right There Anyhow, too! 


I wanted to throw in with that swell bunch! I wanted to hit the beach 
with Goodwin! 

It was hard to see why this cracker-barrel sage had not driven Mel 
Goodwin nuts in May 1944. The General could not have been court- 
ing publicity. If he had been he would not have shot the works to an 
unsyndicated correspondent like Al Crouch. I could attribute part of 
his compliance to the respect and apprehension with which some 
high-ranking officers regarded the press, and also, perhaps Mel Good- 
win had been lonely out there on his moor, not that I believed it was 
a moor. He may have leaned on this Al Crouch as he had on me in 
Paris, desirous of talking to someone who was out of the chain of 
command, someone to whom he could explain some of the things 
that everyone around him took for granted. 

In spite of his cliches and ephemeral journalese, Al Crouch did 
have perceptive sensitivity of a sort. Despite the lapse of time, Al 
Crouch could make you see something of what he saw. Those direct 
quotes of his, one of modern journalism's greatest banes, he had 
doubtless drawn from his memory, but they sounded so real that I 
could hear Mel Goodwin's voice. In the end you began to* distrust 
your own sophistication. If I had been there with Al Crouch, I, too, 
would have wished that I could throw in with that swell bunch and 
hit the beach with Mel Goodwin, even though I would have been 
of no great help had I hit it. 

When Myra Fineholt read that piece aloud, I had the feeling that 
she, too, wanted to hit the beach and so did Phil Bentley. Naturally 
Phil concealed his emotions, and, as he had a good ear for prose, the 
piece must have hurt him even more than it did me. 

"Well," Phil Bentley said, "Mr. Crouch certainly gave you all he 

Mel Goodwin looked at Phil Bentley self-consciously. 

"Well, frankly," he said, "I know you can do better than that, Phil. 
That Crouch, now I come to think of it, was a funny sort of Joe, 
but he liked the old Silver Leaf, and anybody who liked the Silver 
Leaf goes down all right with me. Maybe I'm a ham actor at heart. 
There's always that temptation in front of troops." 


I could see Phil Bentley's face light up, and Myra was writing it 
down. It would make a good caption under one of the photo- 
graphs — a ham actor at heart. 

"Frankly," Mel Goodwin said, "I was surprised when I saw that 
clipping. He sent it to me and asked me for my photograph. I don't 
believe I said all those things, but just the same, it gives you a sort 
of working idea." 

I saw Colonel Flax squirm uneasily. 

"You're right," Phil Bentley said, "I'd have done it differently, 
but it does give you an idea." 

"Well, there it is for what it's worth," Mel Goodwin said. "If he's 
shot the works, so have I. I've been shooting them all over the place 
for you, Phil, and you've got me pinned right down. I keep living 
things all over again." 

Mel Goodwin paused, and we could see him thinking, half hap- 
pily and half sadly, with much the same expression I must have worn 
when I told Camilla about my roller skates. 

"You know," he said, "if I say so myself, I used to be a good pistol 
shot, not that I'm so bad right now. In fact I believe I could have 
made the army team once if Mrs. Goodwin hadn't discouraged it. 
She always had an idea it didn't get you anywhere going around to 
shooting matches. Well, I used to have the sweetest forty-five. It 
fitted into my hand so that every line of my palm seemed to fill 
some part of the grip. I really think I could have plugged the head 
out of a dime with it snap shooting. It got to be a part of me, that 
forty-five. I left it back in Washington when I went out on 'Torch* 
because I wanted Bob to have some personalized gift from me, even 
though he isn't any better than an average shot. Well, Bob mislaid it 
somewhere around Leyte. That's all right, but I still get thinking 
about that gun. Sometimes I wonder where it is now ... all rusted 
somewhere in the bush, I guess." 

The General held his hand in front of him as though he were 
gripping the memory of it. 

"Now that gun," he said, "is sort of like the old Silver Leaf. Of 
course nothing can be precise that's made up of a number of thou- 
sand human beings all suffering wear and tear, but by and large the 


Silver Leaf was an efficient unit according to any set of standards. 
At any rate my greatest moments were with it. I guess I was made 
to head a division like the Silver Leaf. Everybody's made for some- 
thing, and maybe the better you get at doing one thing, the less 
good you are at coping with other things . . . maybe." 

The General's face had a sad, half-empty look. It was the first 
time I had ever seen sadness in him, and the first time also that he 
seemed to be face to face with a situation that he could not quite 

"Well," he said, "where's the old Silver Leaf now? It's all in 
pieces like one of those alarm clocks I used to disassemble when I 
was a kid. It isn't anywhere. What's going to happen to people like 
me? Sometimes I think of all the casualties and dollars it cost to 
turn me into what I am. Maybe I was useful once, but what's the 
point of it now, when I'm not really wanted any more? Oh, yes, 
I'll get something. Maybe I'll even be a permanent colonel, pushing 
or hauling on something, but maybe — I don't mean to bellyache — 
but maybe I ought to be pushing daisies along the Rhine along with 
a lot of the old Silver Leaf crowd." 

Melville Goodwin stopped. It seemed to me that his voice had 
ended on a note of surprise when he reached that logical conclusion, 
and the worst of it was I found myself thinking that he might have 
been right. The power and the glory were gone, evaporated into a 
thin haze of memory. 

Colonel Flax looked uncomfortable. From the Public Relations 
angle such a conclusion indicated an emotional instability that was 
not for the good of the service. 

"Now, General," he said, "you don't mean that." 

Then the General must have realized himself that it was not for 
the good of the service. 

"I guess I didn't phrase my thought quite correctly, Flax," he said. 
"The thought I was trying to convey is, I can never feel sorry for 
anyone who was killed clean in the line of duty, and that's how I 
should have put it. Frankly, I've never been greatly interested in 
death, one way or another. Old whiskers with the hourglass is al- 
ways hiding around some corner, isn't he?" The General laughed, 


and looked relieved now that matters were back on a firmer basis. 
"Give me a cigarette, will you, Flax? My only thought, now that 
the old boy isn't chumming around with me as much as he used to, 
is that I've got to do some future planning, and I've kind of for- 
gotten how to sit still." 

"Now, General," Colonel Flax said, "you know that the bosses 
won't let anyone like you sit still." 

Melville Goodwin smiled again. For years there had been some- 
one around prepared to tell him the right thing. 

"Well, anyway, Flax," he said, "I may be able to take a little time 
oil to do some hunting and fishing. Did you ever try that wild boar 
shooting in Germany?" 

"No, sir," Colonel Flax said. 

"Let's see," he said, "where was I?" 

There was a curious pause. For a second or two no one seemed to 
remember where the General had left off. 

"I guess you were about ready to hit that beach in Normandy," 
Phil Bentley said. 

"That's right," the General said, "it was Omaha." 

We all waited for him to go on, but he did not continue, and then 
I knew that he was empty and finished. His clock had stopped at 
Omaha and he did not want to wind it up again. 

"You know," he said, "I think you've got about all I have to give. 
Let's break it off at Omaha." 

He glanced at his watch and stood up. 

"What I want, Sid, is one or maybe two of those nice pale Martini 
cocktails and then a bite of lunch, and then I'd better kiss the girls 
good-by. Get yourself braced for it, Myra." 

It was the first time that he had called Miss Fineholt "Myra" and 
that concession was like the dropping of a curtain. Phil Bentley 
must have known how things were. There must have always been a 
time in other interviews when it was useless to go further. 

"All right, let's call it a day, sir," Phil Bentley said, but it was not 
quite a day. 

Now that the show was over, we were reluctant to leave the show, 
and Melville Goodwin was like a gracious host. 


"You get my point, don't you?" the General said. "There comes a 
time when you can't blow your own horn any more. The rest of it is 
what you might call straight military history, and Flax can give it 
to you if you want it, or you might get in touch with my old chief of 
staff, General Gooch." 

"The Washington Bureau's covered that already," Phil Bentley 

The General laughed. 

"Well," he said, "let's hope I've lived right." 

We all laughed, but the General was waiting expectantly, as 
though something were missing, and I knew what it was. There had 
been no formal speech of acknowledgment, but just as I was about 
to make it, Phil Bentley did it instead. 

"General," he said, "I want to thank you for everything. You say 
you're a specialist, and I suppose I'm one, too. I must have done 
thirty or more of these interviews and some of them have been 
tough. Well, this one hasn't been tough at all." 

"And Phil and I wonder if you'll sign us each a photograph," 
Myra Fineholt said. 

It was exactly the right touch, the photograph, and as she pulled 
two out of her briefcase, I could see that Mel Goodwin approved. 

"Well," he said, "I didn't know this was coming. Flax, lend me 
your pen, will you?" but Colonel Flax had his pen out and waiting 
before the General asked for it. 

To Myra, he wrote on Miss Fineholt's photograph, who too\ down 
all of Operation Windbag, With love, from Mel. 

To Phil, who made the old man stic\ his nec\ out, he wrote across 
Phil Bentley 's picture, and is too good a guy to chop it off, With ad- 
miration and affection, Mel. 

"Say, Flax," the General said, "how about going out and whis- 
tling for drinks." The operation was over but headquarters was still 
intact. In fact I was almost embarrassed when he remembered where 
he was. 

"Forgive me, will you, Sid?" he said. "I'm just like Muriel. I'm 
always taking over." 


Once More the Sirens Sing 

I had traveled extensively before, during and after the war. Many 
of my trips had been highly uncomfortable, combining physical fa- 
tigue, bad water, inadequate food, and insects; but when a trip was 
over, a mellow glow immediately began to dull its grimmer aspects. 
I would think of the sights I had seen, and the companions, whose 
eccentricities I had scarcely been able to tolerate, became warmly 
agreeable in retrospect. Small grudges and annoyances would be for- 
gotten, and regrets would begin to arise that the party was break- 
ing up and everyone would exchange addresses and promise every- 
one else to get together sometime soon. 

We had all followed Melville Goodwin through a strange country, 
and the experience had drawn us together, but I personally was expe- 
riencing the sort of museum fatigue that comes when you have seen 
and heard too much. Somehow I had not been the casual observer 
that I had thought I would be — but it was almost over now. The 
portable bar was in the living room for the last time, and they 
would all be gone directly after lunch. One more of those peculiar 
meals, and Goodwin, Fineholt, Flax and Bentley would be drawn 
back to the orbits of their own lives. The old rule was already work- 
ing. It had been quite a trip with Mel Goodwin and we were a swell 
lot of people, and we must get together sometime soon. I even re- 
member suggesting to Fineholt that we have lunch so that I could 
show her the studio, and Helen herself was sorry now that the end 
was near, because I heard her telling Mel Goodwin, who was show- 
ing us for the last time how to mix Martinis, that nothing had been 
any trouble at all. He had not descended upon her. She had enjoyed 
every minute of it. 

'Tm just beginning to understand the army," I heard her say, "and 


now you're going and I'll have to start understanding Sidney all over 

"Say, Flax," the General said, "upstairs in my room there are two 
parcels on top of my kit bag — some things I've been saving for Sid 
and Helen. Would you mind asking Oscar to bring them down?" 

Of course Colonel Flax did not mind, and Mel Goodwin took a 
swallow of his Martini. 

"Just two little things I picked up after the surrender," he said. 
"They've been knocking around in my baggage. They don't amount 
to anything, but they do have an association value." 

In spite of the casual way he put it, our journey together had meant 
something to him also. When Oscar brought the two parcels tied up 
in brown paper, I could not help remembering the postwar days 
when everybody began pinning medals on everybody else. The parcel 
he gave to me contained one of those ugly Luger automatics that 
had passed almost as currency in the early occupation. 

"I suppose you own one of these things already," he said, "but this 
is a special Luger. It turned up when they were searching Goering's 
baggage — that time when they fed him chicken and green peas. It 
belonged to old Fatso personally, and here are the papers to prove 

I held the thing as though it were a hot potato, and everybody 

"Is it loaded?" I asked. 

"That's funny," the General said, "I've had it all this time and I've 
never thought to look. Hand it over here, Sid." 

It was impressive to watch him with the Luger. He handled it in 
an expert, half-contemptuous professional way, breaking out the 
magazine with a quick one-two motion. 

"By God," he said, "it is loaded. I wonder what was the matter 
with our boys. Here, Flax, you keep the ammunition. Maybe Mrs. 
Flax might like it." 

"She certainly would, sir," Colonel Flax said, "particularly if — 
er — Sidney would let me have a copy of those documents." 

"Hand Helen her little bundle, will you, Flax," the General said. 
"It's a sloppy package. I didn't tie it up myself." 


His words gave me a fleeting memory of young Mel Goodwin 
sealing packages in his father's drugstore. 

"Why," Helen said, "what a lovely tea cloth." 

"It was right on the table in the bunker in the room where Hitler 
shot himself," the General said, "but the stain on it is tea, and here's 
the paper to prove it, signed by the Russian Intelligence. I got it at 
one of those vodka parties when we were still hotsy-totsy with the 

"Oh," Helen said, "it's lovely." I recognized the tone, though the 
General did not, as one she employed whenever I gave her something 
that she could not imagine how to use. 

"Just from me to you, dear," he said, "and Muriel particularly 
wanted you to have it." 

Then I wondered fleetingly what grisly relic he might be saving 
for Dottie Peale. It was bound to be good, although I could not think 
of anything that might outrank Fatso's gun and Eva Braun's tea 
cloth. It was the direct measure of his gratitude, and I could not 
help but be touched. 

"Why, son," he said when we both thanked him, "they aren't 
anything. I wish they could be the Hesse jewels," and then he 
thought of Phil Bentley and Myra Fineholt. "I wish I weren't run- 
ning clean out of souvenirs," he said. "Say, Flax, how about getting 
the powder taken out and then loosening up and handing Phil and 
Myra each one of Fatso's cartridges?" 

It was the time for passing out the Legions of Merit. 

"I'd love to have one for a lipstick holder," Myra said, "and Phil 
can put his on a key ring." 

"It takes a woman to think up things," the General said. "Sister, 
you've got a lot of bright ideas." 

We were all a swell crowd, and the trip was almost over, and now 
the General was in a reminiscent mood. He was about to tell another 
one of his stories, and it was sad to think that it would be the last of 

"I don't know why I should have thought of this," he was saying. 
"There was a young officer at Maule. That was right in the middle 
of the Bulge show, and everything was pretty scrambled up. Goochy, 


my chief of staff, sent him to report to me personally about some 
snarl up forward. I don't remember what, because it was all one big 
foul-up. He was just a kid, a nice first lieutenant, nice face, nice 
hands. He gave me his name and outfit, but I forgot his name be- 
cause I was thinking of the tactical situation. He gave a good report, 
too, all the facts in order. Then I saw him swaying. I should have 
seen he was going out on his feet — just plain pooped — but I wasn't 
thinking about him until he fell down slam on the floor, out cold. 
Then I thought what a dead-game kid he was, and I wanted to make 
a note of his name personally so that I could pin something on him 
later. So I looked in the kid's pocket and pulled out a letter, and 
found myself reading it, forgetting I shouldn't. Well, do you know 
what the letter was? It was a 'Dear John' letter. The kid's wife 
was leaving him for a navy flier in Jacksonville. He reminded me of 
Robert, stretched out there on the floor, except he didn't have my 
kid's physique. Well, anyway I saw he got a bronze star out of it, 
even if he lost the gal. Maybe it helped a little, but it didn't fix any- 
thing permanently, because he was killed up on the Rhine. Well, 
I don't know how this crossed my mind. Who's ready for another 
drink ?" 

I wished that Oscar would appear with the news that lunch was 
ready, because the shadow of the young lieutenant lingered in the 
room, an uninvited guest, the ghost of an unknown soldier who 
should have stayed in the ETO where he belonged. I wondered my- 
self how he had escaped out of the tight compartment in which Mel 
Goodwin kept the memory pictures of other officers and men, to run 
erratically across the General's mind. There was more in his mind 
than one ev<*r thought. There were the scars of old decisions and old 
regrets, for instance, and the weight of responsibilities that still rested 
on him, which he could not shift from himself to any subordinate or 
superior. Those were the things he had to keep all buttoned up and 
packed away and which he could never allow to move up front. 
There must have been a lot of things that he had felt obliged to for- 
get as rapidly as possible. It made me uneasy that the young lieu- 
tenant should have appeared, but Melville Goodwin was forgetting 
him again and remembering something funny. 


"The blast lifted us right off the seat," I heard him saying, "and 
then we landed on it again hard, right by the numbers, and Goochy 
began to swear. Swearing was all right for Goochy, though it always 
hurt him when I used bad language. 

" 'What's the matter, Gooch?' I said. 'Did you pick up one of the 
pieces?* You see, it was an HE shell and a lot of metal was flying 

" 'No/ he said, and he looked as though he wanted to cry, 'but I 
sat down on that God-damned pint.' 

"It was that pint of bourbon in his hip pocket. We hadn't seen 
bourbon for two weeks and I had told him not to carry it on his hip. 
Well, you should have seen Goochy doing his work that evening. He 
had to write his orders lying down flat while the medics were taking 
pieces of glass out of him. The glass was there but the bourbon was 
all gone. It was really a two-way operation." 

Colonel Flax and I were standing a few steps away from the 
portable bar. We both joined in the merriment, relieved that things 
were back in the right groove. 

"I think this has all been good," the colonel said to me. "Don't 
you think the General handled himself all right?" 

He was appealing to me as a connecting link between the service 
and the eccentricities of civilians. 

"I think Mel did a swell public relations job," I told him. 

The colonel looked toward the portable bar and lowered his voice 

"I've been watching Bentley," he said, "and frankly I had my fin- 
gers crossed once or twice. The General is the type that's hard to put 
over public-relations-wise. You never know how the combat type is 
going to jump. They get too natural. He's getting pretty natural 
right now." 

I did not answer. After all, the show was over. 

"The hours I've sat with combat types, sweating it out in press 
conferences," the colonel said, "waiting for them to drop it all on 
the floor. The rough-and-tumble ones are never public-relations- 

"They can't be everything," I said. 


Colonel Flax sighed. "Someday," he said, "you and I have got to 
get together and tell each other stories. I don't know why they're al- 
ways dropping bricks. They want to be liked and the public is all 
set to like them and indulge in a little hero worship, and then they 
drop a brick. Take Patton." 

"Well, he was the greatest figure in the war," I said. 

"I didn't say he wasn't," Colonel Flax answered, "but, oh brother 
— whenever he made a speech!" He cast a level appraising glance at 
General Goodwin. "He hasn't got the color but he's got a few of the 
Patton traits." 

"Well," I said, "they've got to be the same piece of goods because 
they all have to do the same thing. Maybe the public understands 
them better than you think." 

"Not the left wing," Flax said. 

"Everybody isn't left wing," I told him. 

"Sometimes it seems as though everybody is," Colonel Flax said, 
and he sighed again. "Somebody is always pulling the carpet out 
from under combat generals," and he glanced again at Melville 
Goodwin. "They have to put over their personality to a lot of twenty- 
year-old kids. They have to tell themselves they're good about a 
hundred times a day. They've got to hold that thought or else they'll 
crack. Look at Goodwin. He looks pretty good, doesn't he?" 

Now that he had mentioned it, I had never seen Mel Goodwin 
looking better. 

"He's got his mind on something else now," Colonel Flax said. 
"Boy, I'm feeling tired," but Mel Goodwin was not tired. 

"Hey, Sid," he called, "come over here. I've been asking Helen the 
name of your tailor, and she can't remember." 

"What do you want a tailor for?" I asked. 

"That tweed jacket and slacks of yours," Mel Goodwin said. "I 
need something to wear on Sundays. The war's over." 

I wondered whether it was a desire common to all army officers 
to get out of uniform or whether he was thinking of Dottie Peale. 
There was something preposterous in the idea of Melville Goodwin 
dressed in a tweed coat and slacks, minus stars and ribbons with only 
perhaps a small single enameled decoration in his buttonhole. I won- 


dered what Dottie Peale would say if she saw him in gray slacks or 
a conservative double-breasted suit. Half of him would be gone and 
he did not know it. 

"Well, what's so funny about it?" Mel Goodwin asked. 

He could read my thoughts correctly at the most unexpected times. 

"It would give you schizophrenia," I said. "You've been in uniform 
too long." 

The General put his arm around my shoulders. "Sid always comes 
up with something good," he said. "Maybe Sid's got something." 
He finished his cocktail and set his glass down deliberately. "All 
you people on the outside seem to have queer notions about officers 
in civvies. Now I'll bet Sid here got out of his uniform as soon as he 
had the chance. Didn't you, Sid?" 

"Yes, sir," I answered, "I certainly did." 

"You're damned well right you did," Melville Goodwin said. 
"There's nothing more satisfying to an army man, after a hard day, 
than getting out of uniform into some everyday clothes. It's like tak- 
ing off your corset and scratching — excuse me, Helen, my dear." 

We all smiled at one another appreciatively. 

"Just walking down the street like a plain citizen, without having 
to take a salute, means a lot. It's like getting out of school. . . . But 
do you know what Muriel told me as soon as I got off the plane?" 
He paused dramatically, but none of us knew. "She said that Char- 
ley — my kid Charley — had taken over all my civilian wardrobe — 
and it was a pretty sharp one — and had worn it ragged for the past 
two years. So here I am, without a fig leaf, except my uniform." 

Something in his voice showed it was no time to be amused, even 
when he mentioned a fig leaf. 

"But didn't you get some suits made during the occupation, sir?" 
Colonel Flax asked. 

"I did have a couple of suits made over there," the General said. 
"There was a tailor in Wiesbaden — Bethge. Frankly, off the record 
— - mind you, off the record, Bentley — that bird would make you up 
a suit for two cartons of cigarettes." 

"What?" Miss Fineholt said. "For only two cartons of cigarettes?" 

Melville Goodwin shook his finger at her. 


"Off the record, Myra," he said. "Well, those suits are with my 
baggage in Frankfurt. I was yanked over here pretty fast. They may 
be following me, but they haven't got here yet. . . . Anyway, I think 
they may look pretty Krauty over here. . . . I've really got to get 
some civvies." 

He stopped, but his mind was already moving away from civilian 
clothes. They had reminded him of something else. 

"Say, Flax," he said, "don't forget those orchids for Mrs. Good- 
win, will you?" 

"No, sir," said Colonel Flax, and then the General laughed. 

"Look at old Flax," he said. "I've run him ragged, haven't I? 
Don't worry; it's almost over, son." 

He must have been watching Flax and me very closely while we 
were talking. Then I saw Oscar standing in the doorway, and Mel 
Goodwin saw him, too. 

"Come, dear," he said to Helen, "soup's on." 

The house was very quiet after they all had left and Farouche 
began pushing his rubber ring at me more hopefully. The old routine 
was returning, but Mel Goodwin's personality was still in the house. 
There were echoes of it everywhere, and everything was at loose 

"Sid," Helen said, "what do you think he's going to do?" 

"You know what he's going to do. He put on his 'A' uniform after 
lunch," I said. 

"I don't mean that," Helen said. "What do you think he's going 
to do about everything?" 

"I don't know," I said. "I don't care right now." 

"Well, I care," Helen said. "I wish people wouldn't come here and 
throw their personalities around until I begin to worry about them." 

It was about time that I looked over the script for the broadcast. 
It was about time I dropped the problems of Melville Goodwin, be- 
cause I had problems of my own. 

"Forget about him. He's all grown up," I said, and I wished that 
Farouche would stop dropping the rubber ring in front of me. 

"Farouche needs another ribbon," Helen said. 


"All right," I said. 

I thought we were on another subject, but I was wrong. 

"He's a lot younger than you are in a lot of ways. He's so inno- 
cent," she said, and I knew she was not speaking about Farouche. 

"You shouldn't have done that about the orchids," I told her. 

"I couldn't help it," she answered, and she smiled, and neither 
of us spoke for a while. 

"I wonder why Gilbert Frary sent you so many orchids," I said. 

"Maybe we'd better think about that, too," she answered, but the 
personality of Melville Goodwin was still with us. 

Once when the dust of events had settled, Mel Goodwin told me 
quite a lot about that looked-forward-to evening he had spent with 
Dottie Peale. 

Knowing them both, I was able to make for myself a fairly ac- 
curate reconstruction of their meeting, in much the same way that an 
archaeologist can make a model of some vanished Grecian shrine. 
Mel Goodwin told me about it in one of his embarrassingly confi- 
dential moods, and though much of his narrative made me acutely 
uncomfortable, I still think it fell into an artistic frame instead of 
being only another errant night away from the reservation. Perhaps 
because I have always been fond of the Odyssey I kept seeing in the 
Goodwin chronicle the return of a hero, weary of the wars. I always 
found myself thinking of Circe and Calypso, of palaces, fine wines, 
rare napery and of perfume in the air. Actually there was a wine list 
and Chanel Five and a new gown from Valentina and a silver-blue 
mink stole and diamond clips. Seen through Mel Goodwin's eyes, 
Seventy-second Street must have come as quite a shock. It certainly 
had been a shock to me when I had first seen it and I had not been 
to any war. 

There had been a traffic jam on the West Side highway so that 
Williams and the Cadillac had been unable to bring the General to 
the Park Avenue entrance of the Waldorf before half past five 
o'clock, and this cut his timetable short, as he had arranged to meet 
Dottie at about six. He had decided to stay at the Waldorf out of 
loyalty to the name, though it was not the old Waldorf, and he could 


have taken an army discount at some other hotel. He had on his "A" 
uniform and frankly he looked pretty sharp. The clerks and the bell- 
hops made him feel like a VIP, yet at the same time he also felt 
like a kid. Someone who must have been a manager shook hands 
with him and took him up to his room himself and was sorry it was 
not a better one. It looked too good as it was, considering his budget, 
but he could only stay for a night because he would certainly have 
to check in next day in Washington. When he had left his canvas bag 
in his room, he went downstairs to the florist's shop with an idea 
of buying Dottie some of those yellow orchids, but he decided against 
this because it was too late to have the flowers delivered, and he did 
not want to walk up Park Avenue carrying them in a box. He had a 
fixed desire to walk up Park Avenue. 

It was sunset when he started up the Avenue, and New York was 
still the magic city it had always been for him, rising into the clouds 
and pulsing with life and hope, never weary or disillusioned like 
Paris or London. Nobody had bombed New York, and by God, no- 
body would dare to touch it. The truth was it didn't give a damn 
for the past. It was forever reaching for something just around the 
corner, and this was his own mood exactly. 

I had described Dottie's house to him vaguely, but he thought 
that I had been exaggerating until he saw it, and he found himself 
making a whole new evaluation of everything when he saw the suit 
of armor and asked the butler if Mrs. Peale was at home. 

"Yes, General Goodwin," the man said, "Mrs. Peale is expecting 
you. May I take your hat, sir?" 

"Thanks," he said, and he handed Dottie's butler his cap and 
gloves and followed him up that broad, noiseless staircase. 

"General Goodwin, madam," the man said. 

Dottie was waiting for him in that same monster salon with the 
travertine marble fireplace and Italian chairs and tapestries, where 
she had received me when I had returned from the Paris Bureau, and 
I remembered what she had said to me while I was still looking 
around at the sights. 

"Very cinquecento, isn't it?" Dottie had said. 

"Yes," I had answered, "unspoiled Borgia with a patina." 


Some months after the armistice Mel Goodwin had been to Italy 
on a two weeks' leave, so he was able to take it without gulping, he 
told me. She held out both her hands to him and turned her cheek 
for him to kiss it. In a way it was half formal and half informal. 
He did not know exactly what the technique should be, since that 
butler was still there. 

"Oh, Mel," she said, "it's been ages. Albert, would you tell Ber- 
nard to bring around the car?" 

"What's the car for?" Mel Goodwin asked. 

"You don't mind if I show you off a little, do you, darling?" she 
said. "Only cocktails at '21' and then a quick dinner at the Stork 
and then we'll come back home." 

He was glad that he had thought to bring some cash with him. 

"It sounds all right to me," he said. 

She looked up at him. "I had completely forgotten you were so 
damned handsome," she said. 

"Why in hell didn't you answer any of my letters, Dot?" he asked 

"Because I never dreamed that anything could ever be the way it 
was," she said. 

"Well, it is the way it was," he said. 

"Darling," she said, "let's both be surprised for a minute, shall 

"All right," he said, "that isn't such a bad idea." 

He had thought of her a great deal and there had been plenty of 
time for that sort of thinking. He had thought of her again and 
again as he had first seen her among those other civilians in Paris in 
that austerely tailored suit. He particularly remembered how she 
sometimes called him "sir" in what you might have termed both a 
kidding and respectful way, but he had forgotten what he called her 
resilience and her loveliness. Of course she was dressed for the occa- 
sion, but if she had been dressed in coveralls like an Army nurse, 
they would have been becoming. Her gown was made of plum- 
colored taffeta that was tight on top with a long billowing skirt that 
rustled, and every fold and flounce of it fell into formation. Every- 
thing about her was always a unit, even the diamond clip and brace- 


let. She always wore clothes the way a regular wore a uniform. You 
always thought of the individual first if the whole uniform fitted 
properly, and that was the way he thought of Dottie. 

"Do you like it?" she asked him. 

"Like what?" he answered. 

"Why, my Valentina frock," she said. "I like the noise it makes 
when it swishes." 

"That's right," he said, "it sounds like a wave running up a 

He was thinking of the waves on the windward side of the island 
of Oahu, where the crowd used to go sometimes for swimming pic- 
nics. Then Dottie began to laugh. 

"As long as it's a beach and not a bitch," she said. 

He had to laugh himself because they were right where they 
had been before, and you never worried about her language. If 
anyone else had said it, it would have sounded coarse, but not 
with Dot. 

"Darling," she said, "Fd almost forgotten how nice it is to see a 
man again. I don't mean anyone in pants. I mean a man." She 
pointed to a record player that was finished like the Italian furniture. 
"Turn on that thing over there, will you? I was playing it this 

When he pressed the switch down the music was that old waltz 
from The Chocolate Soldier. 

"Aren't you going to give me some of this dance," she asked, 
"my Hero?" 

"Don't kid me, Dot," he said when he put his arm around her. 

"My Hero" was still playing when Albert handed him his gloves 
and cap. 

I had been exposed to similar evenings myself and I particularly 
remembered one occasion on which Dottie had taken me out to see 
the town. It was during my brief vacation from the Paris Bureau 
and on a night when Henry Peale was suffering from a head 
cold. I had never had the sort of money to go to the places where 
Dottie wanted to go that night and I was lucky enough to be in a 


position to tell her so. I had suggested that we go somewhere in 
the Village. 

"Now, Sid," she said, "of course I know you can't afford it. Take 
this, and if we run through it, I'll pass you some more under the 
table." And she handed me a packet of crisp new bills and told me 
to be sure to give ten dollars to the captain, at which point I told 
her that I was not a gigolo. 

"Now, Sid," she said, "I know how confusing this is for you be- 
cause it was for me once, but stop being silly and remember that 
some people play with different-colored chips. Consider it a social 
experiment, darling." 

I finally let her give me the money to pay for the party on a social 
experimental basis and because she was anxious to show me how she 
was living. I had never before been so aware of the uneven distribu- 
tion of wealth, and I learned a lot from the experience. As Dottie 
told me herself, people who played with different chips had different 
thought processes, but Dottie could still step down from her new 
environment, and she could see with malicious pleasure what the 
environment did to me. 

"It will come easier the next time," she said, "when I pass over 
the cash. Naturally it's demoralizing, but why shouldn't I debauch 

That was exactly why there had never been a next time. I could 
see the corrosive influence of making free with someone else's money, 
but then I had known Dottie for so long that we were able to dis- 
cuss the subject without the least embarrassment. 

"You're always so damned difficult," Dottie said, "but I don't see 
why we can't still be friends." 

I was not the one who was difficult. Friendship was usually com- 
plicated if you played with different chips and I had not been sea- 
green and incorruptible. I had taken the money — once. 

In many ways this problem must have been even more confusing 
for Mel Goodwin than it had been for me. He had never seen much 
of New York high life on an army officer's pay, with a wife and two 
kids who needed food and clothing. He had been to "21" once on a 


big blowout two days before he had sailed with "Torch," but he had 
left the crowd before they reached the Stork. "21" was enlarged now 
and in front of it were all those iron jockeys that had once been 
hitching posts. He had never dreamed of going to the bar there with 
anyone like Dottie Peale and he had never dreamed that people 
would know who he was when she introduced him. Somehow Dot- 
tie made it all like something in those movies you kept seeing at die 
officers* clubs. They had double Martinis — he remembered that she 
always liked Martinis — and he looked curiously around the room 
at the checked tablecloths and the hurrying waiters. 

"Mel/* Dottie said, "why didn't you come back sooner?" 

"Well," he said, "there are still pieces of an army over there, and 
I kept thinking the Russkis might act up. I like it with an army. 
It's simpler." 

"Do you think I'm complicated?" she asked him. 

"Yes," he answered, "but I don't mind some complications." 

"What are you going to do now you're back?" she asked him. 

"Dot," he said, "I wish I knew. I don't know what they can do 
with Joes like me, now we're back." 

"Oh, Mel," she said, "you don't sound happy." 

When he helped her into the limousine her skirts made that swish- 
ing sound and she laughed. "Listen to the wave," she said, "run- 
ning up the bitch." 

Dottie was the only woman he had ever known who could be 
completely feminine and still talk like a man. He seemed to have 
known her always by the time they were half through dinner. She 
was interested in everything he said, not that he could remember 
clearly what they talked about, except that most of the conversation 
was about the relationship between men and women and what made 
such relationships successful. , 

"You know," he remembered that she said, "every woman wants 
to make a man happy. That's all she ever wants." 

Somehow she brought back to his mind all sorts of things he had 
forgotten — things about the Point and about when he was a kid — 
and then they began remembering things that had happened in 


"It was all just something off the map, Dot," he said, "like the 
fourth dimension or the Einstein theory or something." 

"Mel, dear," she said, "do you think we're off the map right now?" 

"Yes," he said, "because it can't last, Dot." 

"Why can't it?" she asked. 

"Why, look at you," he said, "and look at me." 

"It might," she said. "I'm looking." 

When the waiter brought the check, he brought a pencil with him, 
and naturally he placed them before Mel Goodwin. What with the 
champagne and the caviar and everything, it was lucky he had 
brought that loose cash. 

"Hand it over and let me sign it. It's my party," Dottie said. 
"There used to be a song about it, didn't there ? — 'When the waiter 
came she simply signed her name; that's the kind of a baby for me.' " 

The future must have hung in the balance, and the difference be- 
tween Mel Goodwin and me was that he lived by regulation. 

"Not my kind of baby, Dot," he said. 

The strange part of it was that she seemed surprised, which rather 
offended him until suddenly she looked wistful. 

"God damn," Dottie said — she was always picking up someone 
else's trick of speech — "it's awfully nice to feel helpless again." And 
then she said one final thing and Melville Goodwin told it to me. 

"Why can't things be like this always?" 

Calypso must have said it, and Circe, and Cleopatra undoubtedly 
said it to Antony, if not to Julius Caesar. 


There Could Always Be a Palace Revolution 

The details of this encounter were pieced together from what the 
General told me later, like so many other episodes in his career. 
I knew nothing of them at the time. In fact after Melville Goodwin 
had left for New York I believed that he had gone more or less for 
good. If he had made a strong impression on me, so had other peo- 
ple who had also vanished, and in the last analysis one can only give 
so much of one's energy to the affairs of other people. I had no way 
of knowing that Mel Goodwin's life and mine were each moving 
to an almost simultaneous crisis. I could only see long afterwards that 
coming events had cast their shadows during those days at Savin 
Hill. The General's interest in Dottie was of course a recognizable 
shadow, and I should have known that Gilbert Frary's oblique talk 
with me at Savin Hill, and the orchids for Helen were dangerous 
portents; but then, such shadows are usually difficult to perceive until 
too late. Whenever I thought of Mel Goodwin at all in the next 
few days, I simply thought of him as being in Washington caught 
up again in his own routine, disappearing like other friends and 
acquaintances from the ETO, now that the war was over. 

Actually I had not been paying enough attention to my own af- 
fairs. As I told Helen, I had professional pride, such as it was. I had 
never expected to be a radio commentator, but now that I was one, 
I wanted to be a good one. I was tired of being only a front and a 
piece of property. I was delighted to have the assistance of an expert 
script-writer like Art Hertz, but I was beginning to wish to have a 
final say myself on the writing. I had noticed that Art Hertz some- 
times exhibited pain when I made suggestions or asked for a few 
minor changes, but I had always accepted this reaction as natural, 
and I would not have respected him if he had not begun to look 


upon the script as his own property. Nevertheless I did think he 
should have admitted it was mine in the final analysis, if only because 
a great many people thought of me as a commentator who wrote 
his own opinions on world events. 

I had never been as conscious of a sort of opposition on the part 
of Art Hertz as I was just after the Goodwins' visit. I should have 
seen earlier that Art and everyone else on the program knew some- 
thing that I did not. I should have gathered, I suppose, from Art's 
manner that I was not as essential to him as I had been, but at the 
time I was exhilarated by a sense that I was beginning to pull more 
of my own weight in the boat and that things in the studio were 
going pretty well. I was also beginning to enjoy writing the script 
myself with Art and the rest of them to check up on it and I was 
finally getting the feeling of writing for the air. A welcome aspect 
of the situation was the fact that Gilbert Frary had left suddenly 
for the West Coast without asking me again to accompany him, and 
with Gilbert away I was not quite the Charlie McCarthy I had been 
around the studio. 

One day in the latter part of October at four in the afternoon I was 
sitting in the elaborate office which the company had supplied for me, 
going over Art's revised notes, and I had asked Miss Maynard, the 
secretary whom the company had supplied for me, to get me some 
foreign dispatches from the newsroom so that I could check some of 
Art Hertz's statements. I had just decided that a lead on the situation 
in the Orient sounded better than Art's beginning, which dealt with 
a Washington investigation, when suddenly the door from Miss 
Maynard's office opened, and a tall, youngish man, whom I did not 
know, peered in. This would not have happened if Miss Maynard 
had been at her desk but she had just come in to me with the teletype 

Strangers were not supposed to pop in at the studio unless there 
was a* visitors' tour, and I could not say that I was pleased. I had 
never seen this youngish man around, but something in the careful 
cut of his double-breasted suit and in the neat fold of the handker- 
chief protruding from his breast pocket gave me an idea that he 
knew his way about studios. 


"Oh," he said, and he had a fine sincere voice that reminded me 
of my own when I heard a broadcast played back to me, "excuse 
me. I didn't know anyone was here," and then he was gone. 

"Who was that?" I asked Miss Maynard, and I thought Miss May- 
nard colored slightly. 

"Why, don't you know him, Mr. Skelton?" Miss Maynard asked. 

"No," I said, "but he's got a voice and a presence, hasn't he?" 

I should have known right then that Miss Maynard knew some- 
thing that I did not, but at the time such a thought never crossed 
my mind. 

"Why," Miss Maynard said, "it's Mr. Alan Featherbee. You know, 
he has the nine-o'clock-in-the-morning spot at Acme, the one that's 
called 'Alan Featherbee and the News.' " 

I felt a twinge of the unreasoning professional jealousy that is un- 
avoidable in the show business, particularly when I remembered that 
in my latest conversation with Gilbert Frary he had mentioned that 
Featherbee was the one who spoke his own commercials. 

"Well, what's he doing here?" I asked. 

"I really don't know, Mr. Skelton," Miss Maynard said. She looked 
unusually beautiful against the background of the green carpet and 
the gay upholstered chairs, but it seemed to me that she was speak- 
ing especially carefully and sweetly. "Mr. Featherbee has been 
around here a good deal during the last few days. Just visiting, I 

"Oh," I said, "are we going to take him away from Acme?" 

"I really wouldn't know, I'm sure, Mr. Skelton," Miss Maynard 
said, "but he has been around frequently." 

I wanted to ask Miss Maynard some further questions, but I had 
learned that with studio secretaries there was seldom that loyalty 
from the bottom up to which Mel Goodwin had so often alluded. 
At least I had the common sense then to suspect the possible shadow 
of a coming event. 

"Oh," I said. I wanted very much to ask Miss Maynard to try to 
find me a record of one of the Featherbee broadcasts, but I thought 
better of it because of the loyalty angle. "Maybe you'd better go out 
front and keep out visitors, Miss Maynard. I'm pretty busy now," 


but ocfore Miss Maynard could reach her office the door was opened 
again by one of those nice boys in the Civil-War-gray, military- 
academy uniforms with all the braid. 

"Forgive me, Mr. Skelton," he said. It must have been a part of 
the briefing those boys received that made them always ask to be 
forgiven and not excused. "A gentleman at the floor reception desk 
would like to see you personally, and your secretary 's telephone did 
not answer." 

"Oh dear,'* Miss Maynard said, "Fm dreadfully sorry, Mr. Skel- 

I smiled as sweetly as I could at Miss Maynard. 

"All right," I said, "who is it?" 

"Captain Robert Goodwin, sir," the page boy said. 

"I can see him and find out what he wants, Mr. Skelton," Miss 
Maynard said, "and I'll really see this doesn't happen again." 

"Oh, never mind," I told her. "Tell him to come in as long as he's 

First it had been Art Hertz's script, and now I would have to let it 
go as it stood, and then it had been Alan Featherbee and the News, 
and now I was back again in the life and times of Melville A. Good- 
win. I had never imagined that I might see his older son nor could 
I understand why he wanted to call. When Miss Maynard showed 
him in and left us and closed the door, it occurred to me that I had 
never received a guest of my own in my new private office. I was not 
at ease with all those blown-up publicity photographs lining the wall, 
and it did not help to observe that Robert Goodwin began to eye 
them immediately after we shook hands. 

"Don't blame any of that on me," I said. "It's all a part of the show. 
How did you find I was here?" 

Robert Goodwin smiled, and it was the Melville Goodwin smile 
on a younger face. 

"It was really tough tracking you down, Major Skelton," he said, 
"but I called up your home in Connecticut and was able to reach 
Mrs. Skelton. I hope you'll forgive the intrusion. I'm only in New 
York for a few hours." 

He was in a civilian suit that was too reddish-brown and tweedy. 


No West Pointer had ever looked right to me in a business suit. They 
always went hog-wild in men's clothing or haberdashery shops. They 
always come out, even from a reliable tailor, with some garment that 
was slightly out of line or that jarred the notes of convention. Robert 
Goodwin stood as if he were entering an office in the Pentagon. He 
was Regular Army from his manner and in spite of his garish cos- 
tume he almost made me feel like a colonel. 

"Take any color chair you like and sit down," I said. "I thought 
you were a lieutenant. I didn't know you were a captain." 

"It just came through the other day, sir," he answered. 

He looked young for the rank until I looked at his eyes. His eyes 
were older than the rest of his face. 

"Help yourself to a cigarette," I told him. "There ought to be some 
in the box on the fake Chinese coffee table." 

"Thanks," he said, "is there an ash tray handy, sir?" 

I could think of Muriel Goodwin telling him to be careful about 
cigarettes. When he saw a mushroomlike ash receiver in a corner, he 
started up to bring it nearer. 

"Sit down," I said, "and drop your ashes on the carpet. The man- 
agement cleans it every day." 

"This really is quite a place you have here, sir," he said. 

"That's right," I said. "I wish your father could have seen it. It 
might have built me up with him." 

If I had been young Robert Goodwin with a few hours of my own 
in New York, I would not have consumed one minute of it look- 
ing up one of my father's civilian friends, unless I had called for a 
purpose. When he smiled, his eyes narrowed exactly like Mel Good- 
win's. I could see that he was trying to size me up, and that he had 
probably never seen anything like me or the broadcasting studio. I 
found myself anxious to make the right impression on him, and I 
was curious about him, too, because just seeing him put Mel Goodwin 
in a different light. 

He was taller than his father, yet he looked very much as Mel 
Goodwin must have looked when he was fresh from the Point. He 
still had a few rough edges but I was thinking that perhaps he had 
used his father as a model, because his hair was done in the same 


crew cut and he had the same way of sitting, relaxed and yet not re- 
laxed. His youth still concealed many of the qualities which would 
later give him the authentic stamp of the professional soldier, though 
I could tell from previous experiences with other younger officers 
that he had been in action many times. Action always left an inde- 
finable mark on any face. Though they were not deep as yet, lines 
were already apparent around the corners of his mouth. 

"It was nice seeing your father," I said. "We had quite a time up 
at my place with those magazine people." 

Robert Goodwin flicked his cigarette ash on the impeccable office 
carpet and looked longingly at the ash receiver. 

"We're looking forward to seeing that piece about him," Robert 
Goodwin said. "Mother can hardly wait. We all hope the old man 
didn't put his foot in his mouth." 

"Don't worry, he did fine," I told him. "I suppose he's right in the 
groove now and settling down in Washington." 

Captain Goodwin looked straight at me, with the same cool, search- 
ing look his father could assume. 

"I wouldn't say the boss was quite settled down yet, sir," he said. 
"He's got some leave and he and Mother are still sort of camping 
out with some old friends in Alexandria, Colonel and Mrs. Joyce. 
Maybe you heard the old man speak of them." 

"Yes, I have," I said. "Your mother and Mrs. Joyce work on pic- 
ture puzzles, don't they?" 

"That's right," he said. ". . . I've just got orders to go to Benning 
— instructor in recoilless weapons." 

The ice was breaking slightly, and he looked more at ease. He 
seemed to expect me to make some intelligent comment about re- 
coilless weapons, but when I did not, he went right on, still formally 
but more confidently. 

"We played with those things some in the Pacific," he said. "The 
word is they're better now, but I sort of wish I could stick around 
Washington. Fd sort of like to get to know the old man again. I 
haven't seen him for quite a while." 

Obviously he was planning to talk about the old man, now that the 
ground was cleared. 


"Maybe you've noticed, sir," he said, "or maybe it's only my own 
impression, that the old man is sort of restless." 

When our eyes met, I saw that he was watching me carefully, 
and I thought he handled himself very well. He did not fidget, 
as a civilian his age might have, but then he was an officer with 
a record. 

"Everyone's restless sometimes," I told him. 

"Yes, I know," he said, "I'm that way myself — but then I'm under 
thirty, if you get my point." 

In the army you took more things for granted than you ever could 
on the outside. Now and then you had to put all the cards on the 
table with someone after a few minutes' acquaintance, and you got to 
know and to trust people quickly. I must have fitted some of his own 
standards, and I could not help being pleased. 

"Yes, I get your point," I said. 

He glanced at the electric clock on the office wall with its moving 
second hand, and I wondered whether it gave him the same inevita- 
ble sense of pressure that it had always given me. 

"Maybe I'd better lay it on the line," he said. "The old man was 
saying the other night that you were the only noncombat civilian 
officer he knew who ever made full sense to him in a service way. Of 
course the old man's pretty naive at some points, but I saw a lot of 
civilians out in the Pacific myself." He smiled at me again. "Now if 
the old man said that about you, I guess that means you sort of like 
my old man. Jesus, I'm making a long speech!" 

Robert Goodwin crossed the room and dropped his cigarette in the 
ash receptacle, although he had just lighted one, and then he imme- 
diately lighted another. 

"Perhaps you'd like a little Scotch," I said. "I have some right 

"Thanks, I really would, sir," Robert Goodwin said. 

I fetched a bottle and some glasses out of the cellaret and then I 
called Miss Maynard and asked her if she would please get a little 
ice and some soda from the small refrigerator that was in Mr. Frary's 
changing room. We talked about the Pacific until Miss Maynard 
left the room. 


"That's a really nicely stacked up secretary you have, sir," he said. 

"They all are, in the front offices," I told him. I was not old enough 
to call him "son" and he was too young to call me "Sid," but it was 
remarkable how a little Scotch always eased a situation. 

"You know, I've seen a lot of generals, sir," he said, looking up at 
the clock again, "because I was Priestley's aide for a while on Saipan, 
and do you know when I looked my father over the other day in 
Washington, I was surprised?" He stopped and looked at his drink. 
"I may be prejudiced, but I think he's got what it takes, all the way 
around. I have a hunch he can handle anything right through a 
four-star job." 

As I waited for him to go on, I found myself beginning to think 
that he possibly might be right. In the beginning I had discounted 
Melville Goodwin's capabilities, which were always getting lost be- 
hind his simplicities, but somehow Goodwin was always better than 
you thought he was going to be. He had always gained something 
from experience. He had always moved a little further forward and 
he was still young as generals went. 

"A lot of officers can only push beyond a certain level," the captain 
was saying, and he moved his hands in a quick gesture to indicate a 
level. "You can get the feel of this when you meet them — but it's 
different with him. I'm not referring to guts. The boss has a mental 
toughness that is more than guts, and he's really got a future if he 
doesn't stick his neck out." 

He glanced at me, but I did not answer. It was curious to hear him 
implying what had been so often in my own thoughts. 

"There's nothing in this world quite so naked as a general," Rob- 
ert Goodwin said. "He's up there where everybody can see every- 
thing about him including his private life, from every angle, and he 
must be right; he can't be wrong. Well, the old man's up there just 
now, and they're looking him over. Every one of them has his own 
crowd behind him. . . . All right, I'm naturally in the Goodwin 
crowd" — Robert Goodwin glanced straight at me again — "and I 
don't want to see him fall flat on his face, Mr. Skelton." 

The room, like all the studio offices, was carefully soundproofed, 
and the silence all around us was distinctly artificial. 


"What makes you think he's going to fall on his face?" I asked. 

Robert Goodwin's face framed itself in that mirthless service smile. 
It was, of course, a useless question, and of course we both knew it. 

"Listen," he said, "what about this dame he keeps seeing in New 

We were surrounded again by an artificial, antiseptic silence and 
I was conscious of blank helplessness. It was news to me that the 
General had seen Dottie Peale more than that once in New York. 

"Keeps seeing?" I repeated. 

"That's right, sir," Robert Goodwin said. "He's commuting up 
here all the time from Washington." 

"How do you happen to know about this?" I asked him. 

His lips twisted again into that mirthless service smile. 

"I wouldn't say the old man was exactly a subtle character, would 
you, sir?" he said. "He's talked to me about the dame. He's one of 
those people who always has to talk to somebody. He says you intro- 
duced her to him in Paris." 

It seemed to me that he was implying that, because of an introduc- 
tion, I was the one who should do something about it. 

"That was quite a while ago," I said. 

"All right," he said, "that isn't all." 

"What isn't all?" I asked. 

We were beginning to sound like characters in a soap opera, in 
that soundproof office. 

"Everybody's beginning to talk," he said. "They've been seen 
around. It makes a pretty good story. Everyone likes a good story 
when it's on a general, sir." 

"Now look," I asked, and I sounded as cautious as a confidential 
family lawyer, "don't you think you're exaggerating?" 

"Maybe," he answered, "but then, so is everybody else. That's the 
way those things go, isn't it?" 

I wished he would not act as though I were responsible, but I 
could feel his cool accusing glance. 

"Now look," I began, "these things happen sometimes." 

"Yes, sir, you're damned well right they do," he answered, "but 
they ought not to happen to the old man right now." 


"These things happen," I said again, "and nobody can do much 
about them, I guess." 

"Well, the point is somebody ought to try. Don't you agree, sir?" 
he said, and he looked at me. I wanted to tell him that I had tried in 
my own way, but there was that gap of age between us and I had my 
own loyalties. 

"Have you tried speaking to your father?" I asked. 

"Yes, sir," he said, "I brought it up last night and it only made the 
old man mad. Have you ever tried to argue with him?" 

"Yes," I said, "I've tried." 

We sat in silence for a while, both supporting a Leaning Tower of 
Pisa — the career of Major General Melville A. Goodwin. 

"Well," he said, "somebody's got to do something. I hope it isn't 
as bad as we think." 

"I didn't say it was so bad," I told him. 

"I know you didn't say it, sir," he said. "Well, what about this 
Mrs. Peale?" 

"Well," I answered, "what about her?" 

He sat up straighter and gripped his knees with his heavy fingers. 

"Maybe she really likes the old man," he said. "Maybe she doesn't 
realize how this sort of thing might hurt him, from the service point 
of view, I mean. Maybe she doesn't know that the old man's slated 
for something big just now. I think I ought to meet her and have a 
talk with her myself." 

It was exactly what someone of his age would have concluded, 
clear and logical and completely useless, and the worst of it was I 
knew that Dottie would love to see young Robert Goodwin and that 
anything he might say would only give Mel Goodwin a new value. 

"Listen," I told him, "I don't think these things are ever helped by 
sitting around a table." 

"Well," he said, "I don't see how doing nothing will help either, 

"All right," I said, "then you'd better talk to her. She always likes 

"Sir, would you consider going with me?" he asked. 

"I think she'd like it better," I answered, "if you went alone." 

"Would you mind telephoning her and telling her I'm coming 
over?" he asked. 

There were a number of things I might have said about Dottie 
Peale, but somehow they seemed to have all been spoken, wordlessly, 
already, and I asked Miss Maynard to get Mrs. Henry Peale for me 
at her private number. It was five o'clock, and she would probably 
be at home, and it turned out that she was. 

"Why, Sid darling," she said. "Where are you?" 

"I'm at the office," I said. 

"Well, it's a good place for you to be, under the circumstances," 
she said. 

"What circumstances?" I asked. 

"Oh," she answered, "not over the telephone, darling, but there is 
something I'd like to tell you someday soon." 

"Well," I said, "Robert Goodwin's here with me right now. You 
know, Melville Goodwin's son." 

There was a slight pause before she answered, which I rather en- 

"Damn it," she said, "don't always explain everything with dia- 

"There's no need for a diagram," I said. "He's here and he'd like 
to see you." 

There was another pause. 

"Why, I'd love it," she said. "I think it's awfully sweet of him to 
want to see me. Tell him to come right over if he'd like to . . . and, 

"Yes?" I said. 

"Does he look like Mel?" 

"Yes," I said, "quite a lot." 

"Then tell him to hurry over," Dottie said. 

"It's all cleared," I said to Robert Goodwin, ". . . and you know 
if there's anything else I can do . . ." but of course there was noth- 
ing that anyone could do, and I had my own life to lead. Besides 
being concerned about Mel Goodwin, I found myself wondering 
why Dottie had said it was nice I was in the office and what it was 
that she could not tell me over the telephone. 


If I was disturbed after Captain Robert Goodwin had left, it was 
an indefinite sort of disturbance, not a single element of which could 
be isolated. Uncertainty had begun to lurk in the background of 
everything I touched. You could start with all the world events 
which I was trying to put, with the aid of Art Hertz, into an agree- 
able, intelligent capsule to fit within the limits of fifteen spoken 
minutes. Nothing was secure in the world any longer, where bal- 
ances and beliefs were shifting and settling like the foundations of 
a badly constructed building. I had only to look at that broadcast 
script to observe how those one-world theories, once so eloquently 
outlined by the late Wendell Willkie, had flown out of the window. 
They reminded me of a balloon given me as a child, the string of 
which had been whisked out of my fingers by an unexpected gust of 
wind. I could remember staring in pained unbelief after that balloon, 
watching it rise and rise until it was only an unattainable speck. Eu- 
rope was in a state of imbalance, and a single push could topple over 
governments and traditions. Asia was weltering in revolution, and 
at home our own government was seething with its own involutions. 
You could gloss over the details, but the facts remained. Once there 
had been a logical blueprint for the defeat of despotism, and now 
there was not even a plausible plan. The world itself was like the 
Leaning Tower of Pisa, and so was my own future. 

Once I had been able to view all these matters detachedly, but that 
was before I had stakes in the future and before I had become in- 
volved with studios and contracts and people like Gilbert Frary. Now 
my thoughts moved like a modern statesman's, in all directions, fac- 
ing a half dozen unpleasant eventualities. I did not like the broad- 
cast and I did not like Art Hertz or anything in the studio. The 
work had amused me once, but not any longer. If I had been alone, 
I should have known exactly what to do and I should have enjoyed 
doing it, but I was not alone. I remembered what Gilbert Frary said 
about pinching myself to be sure it was not a dream, and it was not a 
dream. There was no sense of euphoria any longer. 

I was not even alone with my own problems — there was also Mel- 
ville A. Goodwin. When I toyed with the idea of reaching Gilbert 
Frary on the Coast and asking him a few curt questions about this 


Alan Featherbee, who had popped suddenly into the office, along 
came the shades of Melville Goodwin and Dottie Peale. Again, when 
I had almost decided to call in Art Hertz and have a frank, tough talk, 
I found myself wondering about Robert Goodwin and Dottie Peale. 
Then I began thinking of Melville Goodwin in Washington strug- 
gling with his own uncertainties. I was reminded that before long I 
would be going down to Washington myself to give the broadcast 
there, thus creating the customary illusion that I was in close touch 
with the nation's capital. The details had all been arranged six weeks 
before. I was enmeshed in personalities and details. 

Before I was aware of the time, Art Hertz came in with the final 
script, walking very softly considering his weight. It seemed to me 
that Art was more sure of himself and more aggressive than he had 
been a day or two before. I believed that he was looking at me in a 
speculative way, as though, like Miss Maynard, he knew something. 
At any rate, it was six-fifteen, too late for any alterations in the 
script. While I was reading it and Art was sitting waiting, I still felt 
that he was watching me, though every time I looked up from the 
boldly typed and spaced pages he was looking carefully at his hands 
or playing with a pencil. 

"That's fine, Art," I said. 

"I'm glad if you like it," Art said. 

"I always like what you do, Art," I told him, "but no two minds 
ever think exactly alike. You mustn't worry if I intersperse a few 
ideas sometimes." 

"Oh, no," Art said, "that's all right. I always liked working for 
you, Sid." 

At certain times you noticed small details if you knew what was 
good for you. Art had used the past tense when he said he liked 
working for me, and the disturbing thing was that he noticed it, too. 

"And I still like it, Sid," he said. 

He sat waiting as if he expected me to continue on the subject. 

"Has Frary called up today?" I asked. 

Art Hertz put his pencil in his pocket and smiled to show that we 
both understood all about Gilbert. 

"Oh, yes," Art said, "he was on the telephone about half an hour 


ago. He was in a cabana at some swimming pool. He just wanted 
to hear the lead of the script. He said the sun was shining and he 
must leave for his massage in the solarium. You know how Gilbert 
likes the sun. I could do with some of it myself." 

"Did you tell him I was here?" I asked. 

"Oh, yes," Art answered, "but when Miss Maynard said you were 
in conference, he just said give you his love. I guess he was in a 
hurry to get to the solarium. You know how he is about the sun." 

"Oh, Miss Maynard was in your office when he called, was she?" 
I asked. 

"She just dropped in," Art said. "You know Maynard; she's always 
around everywhere." 

"That's right," I said, "everywhere." 

I felt like a sultan in a palace, carefully guarded and yet aware of 
a palace revolution, and the feeling was all around me. 

"You know we're going down to Washington on the thirteenth," 
I said. 

"Yes," Art answered, "everything is set. Someone from the State 
Department is going to use three minutes, but we don't know who 
he is yet. Well, if you haven't got anything else on your mind . . ." 

Art stood up and took his pencil out of his pocket. 

"No, my mind's a perfect blank," I said, and I smiled at him. 

He knew it was time for him to leave because I wanted to go over 
the script again by myself. 

"By the way, it's going to be in Studio C," he said. "I hope you 
don't mind, Sid." 

You noticed small details if you knew what was good for you. It 
was the first time I had ever broadcast from Studio C. 

"No," I said, "I don't mind. I'd just as soon not have a crowd 
watching me." 

I should have gone over the script again, but instead I began think- 
ing about my contract and I remembered how hurt Gilbert had 
been when I had shown it, before signing, to a law firm I had se- 
lected myself. The firm was Frankel and Jacobs, well known for 
literary and theatrical work, and as a matter of fact Dottie Peale had 
introduced me to them. The contract was a long document which 

43 1 

I had never read carefully, seeing that I had paid the Frankel firm to 
read it, but I did remember a clause over which there had been argu- 
ment, called a mutual dissatisfaction clause, permitting a termina- 
tion of the contract by either party. The part about either party had 
been inserted by Mr. Frankel instead of simply applying to the spon- 
sor, as Gilbert Frary had suggested. The clause was number twenty- 
eight in the contract, and I wanted very much to read it just then. I 
even thought of asking Miss Maynard for a copy until I thought that 
this might arouse needless suspicions. Instead I asked her to get me 
Mrs. Henry Peale again on the telephone. 

"Darling," Dottie said, "I thought you might be calling me. Is any- 
thing the matter?" 

It went to show that she knew too much about my voice and be- 
havior. I was going to ask her if I might drop over later, and now I 
hated to ask, simply because she had thought I would call up. 

"I was just wondering whether young Goodwin had gone," I said. 

"He just left a minute or two ago," Dottie said. "He was so sweet. 
Don't you think he's sweet?" 

"That's right," I said, "sweet." 

"And he does look like Mel, doesn't he?" 

"That's right," I said, "he looks like Mel." 

"Why don't you stop in for a minute on your way home?" she 
said. "I could give you a bite of supper, darling, up in the study. I 
haven't anything to do until nine o'clock." 

I was very glad that she had asked me, and then before I could get 
to the script again, Helen called me. 

"Sid," Helen said, "is anything the matter?" 

I wished that the women in my life did not understand all the in- 
flections of my voice. I told her that of course nothing was the matter. 

"Camilla has a temperature," Helen said, "and Dr. Gordon's just 
been here. It's only a cold, but she's been asking for you." 

It was not one of my better days. Yet I was surprised by my own 
voice when I sat in Studio C and said "Good evening, friends." It 
sounded as though I did not have a care in the world and as though 
the world were going on delightfully for everyone. 

43 2 

Everything at Dottie's always ran like clockwork, although this 
may have been an archaic way of putting it. Albert, that butler of 
hers, greeted me like an old family friend and asked whether he 
should take me up in the lift or whether I cared to go by myself. 
When I told him that I would try to run the thing alone, he showed 
me which button to press. 

"The doors open and close automatically, as you may remember, 
sir," he said. 

Automatic elevators always reminded me either of the Arabian 
Nights or of a journey to a hospital operating room. When I pressed 
the button and when the doors closed, they physically shut out the 
immediate present and I seemed to have committed myself to a 
transition from one phase of life to another. When the elevator doors 
opened, I could see Dottie, across the entry to her study, sitting there 
on the sofa. Her feet were curled under her in that manner she had 
never outgrown, and it was easy to forget all the years and events 
that had separated us. 

She wriggled off the sofa when she saw me, just as she would have 
years before. There was always something youthful about the way 
Dottie got herself off a sofa. She was dressed in a greenish afternoon 
frock which she had undoubtedly hurried into directly after I had 
told her about Robert Goodwin. In fact Dottie and that whole study 
hinted at the ending of a little scene. There was still a trace of ciga- 
rette smoke in the air and almost the echo of voices. 

"Hi, Dot," I said. 

She held her hands out to me, but before I could take them she 
threw her arms around me and kissed me. It was utterly unexpected, 
but I could not say I minded it. 

"Well, well," I said, "say I'm weary say I'm sad, but Jennie kissed 

"Darling," she said, "your feathers are all rufHed. You look upset." 

There was no use concealing my feelings, and as I stood with my 
arm around her, I had to admit that I felt happy, because I suddenly 
realized that she and I were friends in spite of all our quarrels and 
competitions. I have never been able to understand exactly what con- 
stitutes a friendship between a man and a woman. There were still 


some echoes of old emotion, but they were not disturbing then. I only 
knew that Dottie would not go back on me, and that it was safe to 
tell her anything that worried me. 

"Well," I said, "perhaps I am." 

"Do you want a drink ? " she asked me. 

"No," I said, "not right now, thanks." 

"All right," she said, "if you want to be strong-minded. I had 
Albert bring up chicken sandwiches and milk. Do you still like 
chicken sandwiches?" 

It was kind of her to remember that I liked chicken sandwiches, 
but then if she wanted she could remember everything. 

"Darling," she said, "I'm ever so glad you called me up." 

There was no need to make any conversation. I felt again as I had 
in the elevator, the same sense of motion without my own volition. 
I was conscious of her possessive instincts. I knew that she always 
liked to run things, but I did not mind this then. She was back on the 
sofa again with her feet curled under her. 

"Oh, hell," she said, "why not face it? It's awfully nice to know 
you still belong to me a little." 

"I don't mind it either right now," I said. 

I knew this was one of her moods, but then perhaps it was valid. 

"We needn't be so damned strait-laced about it," Dottie said. "If 
two people have ever been in love with each other, they always do 
belong to each other a little, whether they approve of it or not. It 
isn't anything to be ashamed of. It's only an obvious sort of fact. I 
don't even mean that we were very much in love, because we always 
knew too damn much about each other . . . and now you'd better 
pull up your socks and tell me what's the matter." 

"It's nice to be on such a friendly basis, Dottie," I said. 

"God, yes," she said, "it's nice we're grown-up, darling." 

Now that she mentioned it, I was almost sorry we were grown-up, 
which was probably exactly what she wanted. I did not love her any 
longer and she did not love me, but at the same time I could tell her 
some things about myself which I could not have told Helen. 

"Well," I began, "this afternoon at the office . . ." 

And there I was, telling Dottie Peale about Alan Featherbee and 


Gilbert Frary and Art Hertz, moving back and forth, mixing the end 
with the beginning. 

"I know," Dottie said, "they're all sons of bitches, darling." 

I had always known they were, but it was very comforting to hear 
Dottie say so and to feel that I was talking to an expert. 

"I don't want Helen to be disturbed," I told her. "I suppose I ought 
to do something. What alarms me is that I don't seem to care." 

"Don't you care at all?" she asked. 

"Frankly, no," I said. I would not have dreamed of telling anyone 
except Dottie that I did not like broadcasting the news and that I 
welcomed any opportunity of walking out and leaving it. 

"God damn it," Dottie said, "it's just like you, after you've made a 
success of something. It's just the way you left and went on that 
Paris Bureau. God damn it, I suppose I'll have to make you do 

She was delighted, trying to run someone's life again. She got off 
the sofa and mixed two highballs and while I watched her I was 
very glad that we were not married. 

"You're so clever in some ways and so dumb in others," she said. 
"Seriously, darling, haven't you known that Gilbert was out to knife 
you ? I've known it for the last six weeks." 

"How did you know?" I asked. 

"Because I'm not a chump like you," Dottie said. "You've got to 
start pulling up your socks. You've got Helen and Camilla." 

"I know," I said, "I've given that a little thought." 

"You always were so damned irresponsible," she said. "If you can't 
think of Helen and Camilla, I suppose I'll have to. There's plenty 
you can do about Frary. You're as important as Frary. What are you 
thinking of doing?" 

I took a sip of my highball. I was perfectly glad to drink it, because 
I was not upset any longer. 

"Frankly, I'm thinking of collecting my year's salary and getting 
out for good," I said. 

"And then what'll you do?" she asked. 

It was a pleasure to have her ask me instead of asking myself. 

"I don't know," I answered. "Maybe I might do some writing." 


"Oh, my God,'* Dottie said, "what sort of writing? Dog stories?" 

"I've a poodle named Farouche," I said. "I might do poodle 

"Oh, Jesus," Dottie said, and then she saw that I was laughing at 
her. "It's just the way it was on the paper. All right, I'll go around 
myself and see someone tomorrow. You can forget about it now and 
let me run this." 

It did sound exactly like old times. 

"Well, that's fine," I said. "You sound exactly like Mrs. Melville A. 

I had never considered the consequences when I mentioned Mrs. 
Goodwin until I saw Dottie's face redden and there was a moment's 

"Now just why did you bring her up?" she asked, but now that 
she was brought up, we both must have realized that the Goodwins 
had been with us all the time. 

"Now, Dottie," I said, "I didn't mean to, but how did you like the 
soldier boy?" 

Dottie sighed impatiently and picked up a cigarette and lighter 
from the table and balanced the lighter on the palm of her hand, as 
though it were the scales of justice. 

"One of your worst troubles," Dottie said, "is that you never face 
up to anything. First you come here and tell me all your difficulties 
and then when I'm considering them, you ask about something else. 
What's the matter? Don't you want to have me help you?" 

"Now, Dottie," I said, "talking this over has been a help, but I 
don't want you to go and see someone." 

"Sid," she said, "I don't know why you don't understand that a 
woman's never happy unless she's useful to some man. Now just the 
other night I was talking to Norman Jones. You know Norman 
Jones in White Wall Rubber, don't you? Well, he was just saying 
the other night that they want to sponsor a news hour." 

I could look into the future and see her talking to Norman Jones. 

"God damn it," Dottie said, "I'm going to see him whether you 
want me to or not. You never know what you want." 

"Dottie," I asked her, "does anyone know what he wants?" 


"That's a silly question," Dottie said. "I know, I've always known 
and I don't flounder around like you." 

"Well," I said, "you've never got it, have you?" 

There is always something embarrassing about naked truth. She 
scowled at me and then she gave her head an impatient shake. 

"That's right," she said, "but I'm still in there pitching, darling, 
and I don't just slide around." 

I have never known where the talk would have gone from there — 
whether it would have continued with the White Wall Rubber Com- 
pany and my problems on the radio or whether it would have cen- 
tered on the desires of Dottie Peale. I never knew because I saw her 
move her head sharply and I heard the automatic elevator. 

"My God," Dottie whispered, "what time is it?" and then she 
looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. It was exactly half past eight. 
"Darling," she whispered, "don't go. Don't go just yet." 


But Don't Quote the General Personally 

We had both turned to the door that opened onto the hallway, and 
there was Melville Goodwin. He stood like a picture in a frame, and 
there was one o£ those uncertain silences before any of us spoke. His 
uniform, the ribbons and the insignia gave everything a new com- 

"Why, Mel," I heard Dottie say, "you're early." 

"That's right," he said, "a half an hour early. I was hoping to sur- 
prise you and turn up here like a plain citizen, but the tailor hasn't 
finished with my tuxedo yet. I hope I'm not interrupting a confer- 
ence. Hello, Sid." 

I think he was surprised because he must have expected Dottie to 
be alone, but at the same time he was glad to see me. 

"Hello, Mel," I said, "I just dropped in for a minute and I'm leav- 
ing now." 

"What's the idea of your leaving?" Mel Goodwin asked. "Dottie 
and I were going to see the town. How about taking him along, 

There was still an element of surprise. There was no reason why 
General Goodwin should not have appeared, but I had not expected 
him to be so completely at home. I had not expected his slightly pro- 
prietary air, and Dottie was looking at us both proudly, almost 

"Sid just came around for some advice, Mel," Dottie said. "Career 

Mel Goodwin smiled and walked across the room and patted me 
on the shoulder. 

"Career trouble?" he repeated. "By God, that sounds like Wash- 

43 8 

ington. Well, Sid can tell me all about it while you go in and put on 
what you call an evening frock." 

There was no doubt that Mel Goodwin was perfectly at home. 
Somehow we were in the middle of a family scene and I was the old 
and understanding family friend. 

"God damn," the General went on, "are they knifing you in the 
back, Sid? It looks as though they're ganging up on all your boy 
friends, Dot." 

Dottie shook her head. 

"Mel," she said, "would you mind very much if we all stayed 

Somehow this simple question gave the scene an even more do- 
mestic note. Mel Goodwin looked at her quickly and the crow's-feet 
deepened around his eyes. 

"Why," he said, "what's the matter, Dot?" 

"Oh," Dottie said, "nothing, Mel, except perhaps I've been thought- 
less. Darling, I never dreamed that people would begin to talk." 

Mel Goodwin clasped his hands behind him and glanced at me and 
back at Dottie, and the lines on his face looked deeper. 

"Well, well," he said, "so that's why Sid's up here." 

"No, no," Dottie said, "it isn't Sid, but I imagine Sid agrees with 
me. I've been awfully thoughtless, Mel." 

I admired that facade of Melville Goodwin's. It was easy to see how 
accustomed he was to environments in which anything might 

"Let's get this straight," he said. "If Sid hasn't been talking to you, 
someone else has?" 

"Oh, never mind, Mel," Dottie said. "It really doesn't matter who." 

"Wait a minute now, let's get this straight," Mel Goodwin said. 
"You didn't feel this way when I called you up at noon. Someone's 
been working on you since then. Come on, who was it, Dot?" 

"Oh, it doesn't matter, Mel," Dottie answered. 

Mel Goodwin did not raise his voice. There was only the slightest 
change in it. 

"Come on," he said, "who was it, Dot?" 

It was interesting being an innocent bystander, now that Dottie 


had finally found a man. I was sure that she did not want to tell and 
I was just as sure that she was going to. 

"It's about time for me to be going home," I said. 

"No," Mel Goodwin said, "I want you to stick around, boy. Who's 
been so interested in me, Dot?" 

"Mel," Dottie said, "promise me you won't be mad at him." 

"That depends on who it is," Mel Goodwin said. 

"Oh, hell," Dottie said, "all right, have it your own way. It was 

"Well, I'll be God damned!" the General said. "So Bob was here." 

"He's awfully fond of you, Mel," Dottie said. 

"Well, I'll be God damned!" the General said. "So it was Bob, was 
it? Did you see him, Sid?" 

I heard the question, but I could read nothing from his face. 

"I saw him first at the office," I answered. "He's worried about 
you, Mel." 

The guileless eyes of Mel Goodwin held me for a second. 

"Do you think he's got a right to be?" he asked. 

"Yes, sir," I answered, "he made me think so." 

"What did you think of Bob?" he asked. 

"I liked him," I said. 

Mel Goodwin smiled and the watchfulness left his eyes. 

"That boy is going to get along," he said, "if he just learns not to 
stick his neck out. God damn, it's nice, his being worried about the 
old man. You know, I kind of like it. What did he say?" 

He was asking me, not Dottie. 

"He thinks you have a future, sir," I said, "if you don't stick your 
neck out." 

"You know, that's sort of pleasant," Mel Goodwin said, "to know 
that the kid thinks that. Did you and Bob get along all right, Dot?" 

Dottie smiled her warmest smile. 

"He loved talking about you, Mel," she said. "He was so sweet 
about you." 

"Well, well," the General said, "maybe I should have taken this all 
up with Bob myself, but there never seemed to be any opportunity 
around the house in Alexandria. Maybe Bob's right about being 


around publicly. Well, let's all stay here and have a happy evening. 
I'm really glad you saw him. I'm pretty proud of Bob. Did I ever 
tell you about the last time I had to lick him ? It was when he swiped 
my horse at Schofield. He was too much horse and he ran away for 
about two miles, but Bob stayed with him. He told me later that I 
made his rear end sorer than the horse did. Say, I sort of wish I 
knew where to find Bob. I'd like to have him around right now." 
Melville Goodwin smiled and sat down on the sofa. "Fetch me a 
drink, will you, Sid ? This is certainly a welcome change from Wash- 
ington. God, that crowd in the Pentagon! It's full of people with 
battle records now, but a lot of the boys look confused." 

As I watched Melville Goodwin, my own affairs assumed a tawdry, 
humdrum aspect, involving only small minds and little people. Mel- 
ville Goodwin's personality had filled the room, embracing and ab- 
sorbing Dottie Peale and me. Although his weaknesses and failings 
were very clear, he was living more intensely and more honestly than 
Dottie Peale or I ever would; he had seen more and he had given 
more freely of himself and he still had more to give, and. anything 
that might happen to him would have a greater significance in 
human terms. 

I forgot that it was time for me to be starting home. I was in an 
atmosphere of suspense, as I watched Mel Goodwin and Dottie 
Peale, and every bit of byplay was portentous. It was fascinating, for 
instance, to observe that when he sat down on the sofa he unbut- 
toned two buttons of his blouse. When you thought of the buttons 
of West Point and of his subconscious preoccupation with appear- 
ance, nothing could have been more revealing than that uncon- 
sidered action. It told as clearly as words where Dottie and Mel 
Goodwin stood. 

"This is a fine idea," he said, "sitting around in a home this 

The unbuttoning of his blouse confirmed his words. Obviously he 
had given all his trust and all his confidence to Dottie Peale freely 
and rapidly, but then he had grown accustomed to swift decisions. 
It was only left for me to wonder uncomfortably how far he had 
gone in his planning. 


"How's Muriel?" Dottie asked. I moved uneasily. Her inquiry 
was as candid as the unbuttoning of the blouse and so obvious that 
Dottie must have intended me to see how things stood. At any rate 
they both had made it clear that there was no need for camouflage. 

"Oh," the General said, "Muriel's as busy as a bird dog. She's giv- 
ing a round of cocktail parties and we had a steak fry last night." 

"Oh dear," Dottie said, "every time I see you, you seem to have 
just left some steak fry or other." 

You might have thought that she had said something very pro- 
found, judging by the General's emphatic agreement. 

"Ever since I was a shavetail," Mel Goodwin said, "there have been 
steak fries, but they're increasing lately. Women like them and a lot 
of the big wheels seem to like chewing meat in somebody's back 
yard. I guess I've had too many alfresco meals to get the point, but 
Muriel likes me behind a grill with a fork in my hand. Every man in 
Washington is turning into a God-damned chef." 

"Does General Bradley grill steaks, too?" Dottie asked. 

"Oh, hell," Mel Goodwin said, "Brad's good at anything." 

"Did you see the President yesterday?" Dottie asked. "You said 
you were going to." 

"I certainly did," Mel Goodwin said. "Muriel and I went there to 
tea and he gave me fifteen minutes in the office. You really should 
have heard Muriel telling how I won the war." 

"Well," I told him, "I think I ought to be going now." 

"No, no," the General said, "sit down, Sid. You know what I mean 
about Muriel. No one can set things up like Muriel." 

"Don't go yet, Sid," Dottie said. "It's always fun when Mel gets 
started on Washington." 

I would not have termed it all fun, but I was back again in the 
orbit of General Goodwin. 

This was the second time, Mel Goodwin was saying, that he had 
come home from a war. He had been very junior on the other occa- 
sion and that was easy to handle, but it was no joke coming home as 
a general, with a lot of missiles being thrown at you, including cus- 
tard pies and bricks. If you put up your head a single inch out of a 


slit trench in Washington, you were apt to connect with something. 
It seemed, down in Washington, even in branches of the Department, 
that everyone was forgetting there had been a war and Washington 
was sick to death of officers and their records. There was all the 
Pacific island-hopping crowd trying to muscle in ahead of the Africa 
and ETO crowd. The truth was, combat officers were selling for 
about a dime a dozen, and you couldn't see the desks for the battle 
ribbons. There were a lot of people in Washington who were anxious 
to cut major generals down to size, now that we were winning the 
peace. All the branches of the service were still jockeying for position 
down in Washington. The Air Force boys, for instance, all knew 
they could win without Ground Forces now, and the navy seemed 
to have an idea that they could win without the Air Forces. It made 
you dizzy to hear the talk in Washington. He would wake up some- 
times in the middle of the night wishing that he were a shavetail 
again out somewhere with troops. 

The chain of command was something which anyone must respect 
because it was the backbone, sinews and nerve force of the service. 
He was willing to grant that you should obey it automatically, and 
he always had, and you learned also to put up with any personality 
above you. Frankly, he had served under many mediocre superiors, 
but there was something new in the peacetime setup that made him 
gripe. There was a cream-puff quality about a lot of thinking down 
in Washington. He once had the idea that the army was primarily 
designed to produce efficient combat units, but this was old hat now 
in some quarters. Instead, coming to it cold, you sometimes got the 
impression down there that the army was a sort of social service in- 
stitution designed to provide financial security, healthy outdoor sports 
and desirable civic works. The army seemed to have its finger in 
everything — recreation centers, adult education, scientific research. 
A lot of people who should have known better were fiddling around 
down there in such a mental fog that they were getting fouled up 
over basic training and manpower. You might think — you really 
might — that the principal activities of the Department would be 
concentrated on the equipment and development of a few first-rate 
mobile divisions that could be used as an expansion nucleus in future 


emergency. Granted the best minds were developing insomnia over 
how to accomplish this in the face of dwindling appropriations, yet 
bringing up such a subject was not well received in some groups. 
You would even get yourself lectured sometimes in a nice way about 
new tactics and new weapons by a lot of theoretical so-and-sos, al- 
though he admitted there were a lot of good boys around who had 
learned a few basic facts of life from coming in contact with the 

On his first day in Washington he had dropped in on the spur of 
the moment to see "Snip" Lewis, just for a friendly chat and some 
informal orientation, on the off-chance that old Snip might not be 
too busy. Maybe he should have telephoned. Snip had been in a key 
position since the war and as far as Mel Goodwin was concerned, 
he deserved everything he had, including the Legion of Merit and 
the DSO and his complimentary French and British decorations. 
He had nothing at all against anyone like Snip, who had been three 
years behind him at the Point. Snip was an old Grimshaw man, and 
they had worked together in Washington before "Torch." It was not 
Snip's fault that he had stayed on in Washington — somebody had to 
stay — and Snip had been a fine exec for Grimshaw. Personally, Mel 
Goodwin was glad that Snip had worked his way to something. 
Nevertheless he was surprised when he dropped into that Pentagon 
office. Snip's office had a lot of mahogany in it and was about as big 
as the Chapel at the Point, with map racks and conference tables and 
his general's flag, but the thing that struck him right in the eye was 
Snip's exec in the outer office. It was old "Froggy" Jukes, sitting right 
out there pushing all the buttons. It was hard to tell what would 
come up next when you saw a man like Froggy Jukes in a key 

He wanted to make it clear that he had nothing against Froggy. 
It wasn't any man's fault if he suffered from emotional instability 
and did not make the grade in a front area, because this might hap- 
pen to the very best. Nevertheless when Froggy Jukes was in "Bull- 
pup" in North Africa, he had been indecisive at a moment when 
you could not wait for second chances, and old Heinzy had not taken 
him over to Italy, after that little mix-up. Yet here he was, a briga- 


dier, in the Pentagon with three secretaries and secret filing cabinets 
and four telephones. He had nothing whatsoever against Froggy and 
and he had not been mixed up with Froggy 's problems, but they had 
both been in "Bullpup" and he knew the score. 

"Well, well," Froggy said, "I've been wondering when you'd come 

"Well, well," Mel Goodwin said, "it's nice to see you, Froggy. 
How have things been going?" 

You could see that things had been going pretty well. Froggy had 
" his North African ribbon, the Legion of Merit and the DSO and a 
Caribbean ribbon. 

"I'm just the Chief's errand boy," Froggy said, "but I'm busy as a 
bird dog, what with all this unification. Let's see, you were in 'Bull- 
pup,' weren't you, Mel?" 

Froggy knew damned well that he was in "Bullpup," if he had not 
lost his wits. 

"Heinzy never understood me out there," Froggy said. 

All you could do was to be nice about it, and say that a lot of 
others hadn't hit it off with Heinzy either, but it was peculiar to 
hear someone like Froggy treating "Bullpup" as a joke and you 
could see that he still had it in for the "Bullpup" crowd on general 

"I suppose you v/ant to hit the Chief for something,'* Froggy 

Of course he was saying it in a kidding way, but it was not a nice 
way of putting it, considering who had the rank and record, and it 
was time to put Froggy in his place. 

"If General Lewis has about three minutes," Mel Goodwin said, 
"I'd like to pay him my respects." 

"The Chief is pretty busy now," Froggy said. "It's a crowded 
morning but I think he can give you five minutes." 

"All right, ask him," Mel Goodwin said. "I'm pretty busy myself, 

Froggy opened the door to the inner office and slid through and 
closed it softly behind him. There was nothing about any of it that 
Melville Goodwin liked, particularly the implication that someone 


like Jukes could do him a favor. People like Froggy Jukes always got 
on well on staffs and Froggy probably did have the knife out for any- 
one who had been in "Bullpup," but of course Snip Lewis had time 
to see him. 

"Sit down, Mel," Snip said. "I wish I didn't have to get out of here 
in five minutes." 

"It's damn nice to see you, Snip," Mel Goodwin said. "How's 

"Ethel's fine," Snip said. "We'll have to get you and Muriel over 
on the first clear night, and we'll get the Old Man. The Old Man 
wants to see you." 

"Well, that sounds good," Mel Goodwin said. 

"We've got to find a groove for you, Mel," Snip said. "I wish there 
were room for you on the team here — but a lot of people are going 
to be asking for you. If there's anything you'd like particularly, count 
on me to put in a word." 

This was all said in a kidding way, of course, and Mel Goodwin 
laughed because it was the right thing to do and not because he felt 
like laughing. 

"Well," he said, "if you've got a division running around loose, 
bear ine in mind, will you?" 

This was said in a kidding way, too, but it was curious to see the 
blank look on Snip Lewis's face. You could see that he had always 
been away from divisions except on paper. 

"What in hell do you want a division for?" Snip asked, and Mel 
Goodwin felt as embarrassed as if he had asked for something off- 

"Well, I know about them," he said. 

Snip Lewis wrote something on his memo pad. 

"Listen, Mel," he said. "We can cook you up something higher 
than that. Now you're safe home we don't want to send you out to 
Bragg or Bailey. What would you do with a division, boy?" 

It was the damnedest thing he had ever heard and a funny sort of 
attitude. He wanted to ask Snip Lewis what he thought the army 
was about, but it was no time to sound off too freely, and besides, 
Froggy had just re-entered the room. 


"General Councillor is outside, sir," Froggy said, "and the car's 
at the Mall entrance." 

"All right," Snip said, "two more minutes . . . and take my brief- 
case," and they both watched Froggy close the door. 

"Froggy has been quite a find," Snip Lewis said. 

"I'm glad to hear it," Mel Goodwin answered. "I'd be damned 
if I'd want him." 

After all, he could call a spade a spade with Snip, and Snip 

"I know," he said, "but right now we need more brains than 
brawn. Just get it through your head that you've got brains, too. 
Goochy's here and a lot of your old crowd. We'll all get together. 
Take off the pressure, Mel, it's going to be all right." 

They walked out of the office together, and it was quite a walk 
from Snip's desk to the door, but he was not sure even then that 
everything was going to be all right. There were too many major 
generals wanting something. He was always running into them 
along the corridors, all calling on their own Snip Lewises. Maybe 
there should have been a displaced persons camp. There was noth- 
ing more displaced to his way of thinking than a combat general 
without troops in the Pentagon. 

When you came to think of it, Bud Councillor had been holding 
down a desk in Grosvenor Square until the Third Army was out- 
side Paris and then he had warmed another chair in Paris until he 
had got himself promoted to the higher echelons in Frankfurt. 
There had been a time when things had been a little different 
around the Pentagon. He could remember, for example, when he 
had flown back just after Salerno as a member of a group of five 
to give a firsthand picture of certain situations. Everyone was run- 
ning around in those days to light your cigarette and when you sat 
around a table there was a universal belief that someone who had 
heard a gun go off might conceivably contribute something worth 
while to a discussion. 

He had hardly been able to wait until the plane took off again. 
There had been a little dinner before the take-off in a certain house 
at Fort Myer and it had flattered the hell out of him to have been in 


such company. He had been the junior to all of them, but some of 
them had looked wistful, and sometimes you could forget about the 
rank. That farewell party and the faces stayed with him in the plane 
all the way up to Gander, but he would not have wanted any of their 
jobs. They were in touch with everything and at the same time out of 
touch. That was always the trouble with high echelons. You had to 
delegate so much and trust so much to other eyes and ears that you 
were always locked away in some map room dealing with high logis- 
tical problems, surrounded by people like Froggy Jukes. You were 
more of a professor than a soldier, and he wasn't any professor. 

I had never seen Melville Goodwin quite so completely frank. 
His face was more mobile than I had ever seen it, and it exhibited 
traces of uncertainty and worry that I had never observed pre- 
viously. He was clearly talking to himself as much as to Dottie Peale 
and me, though at the same time he was conscious of both of us. 
He wanted us to listen, although there was nothing that either of us 
could contribute because we were not familiar with the practices of 
army administration. We could only sympathize inexpertly with his 
disturbance. Then all at once he looked guilty. 

"This is all of! the record, you know," he said. "I'm afraid I've 
been giving you a false picture of the Pentagon. Set it down to 
biliousness, will you?" 

He was back with his loyalties again. He had given a false picture 
of the Pentagon and now he wanted to make it clear that there was 
the finest crowd of people there that had ever been in any damned 
army — only there was so much fine material that it was a little 
crowded together, even in the Pentagon. He knew everybody there, 
or almost everybody. Why not, after thirty-five years in the service? 
There had never been such a collection of people with fine battle 
records or so many good leaders. It was a thrill to be on a first-name 
basis with nearly all the big wheels in that fine crowd. When he 
spoke of theoreticians and cream-puff thinking, he was only refer- 
ring to a very few. They were doing the best they could there in the 
face of public apathy. They all felt basically as he did about building 
up a combat force and he had been unduly hard on Froggy Jukes too. 
Froggy really had a lot to recommend him. 

44 8 

He had been talking out of school about old Snip Lewis, too, who 
had done everything for him in Washington. Why, Snip had even 
wangled it somehow with Public Relations so that he could have a 
car and a driver when he needed it, and God only knew how Snip 
had managed it. Snip's office wasn't really as big as the Cadet Chapel 
either, and of course he had not been hitting Snip for a job seriously. 
Snip was not Career Management, but maybe you did just run on 
about things when you were new around the Pentagon. 

"I don't want to give you any improper picture," he said, "but Sid 
here knows you can bellyache about the Pentagon a little, even when 
it's full of old classmates." 

He passed his hand over his closely cropped hair and unbuttoned 
the last button of his blouse. 

"Why don't you take your coat off?" Dottie asked him. 

I had never thought that I would be so much Melville Goodwin's 
partisan. I hated to think of his being disturbed in Washington. I did 
not want him to be vulnerable like other people. 

"Maybe that's a very good suggestion," he said, "but I wish you'd 
get in the habit of calling it a blouse instead of a coat." 

"Oh, excuse me," Dottie said. "I don't know why I always keep 

He rose and took off his blouse and hung it neatly on the back 
of a chair, and that homely action dramatized all that he had been 
saying. He obviously recognized this himself, because when he sat 
down again in his olive-drab shirt, I saw him gazing at his blouse. 

"Come to think of it," he said, "it looks like part of my skin, 
doesn't it? Now if Sid took off his coat, it wouldn't look so much 
like skin." 

He smiled at us expectantly, but neither Dottie nor I spoke. 

"Come to think of it, everything's on it, isn't it?" he said. "Maybe 
that's all that anybody ever sees in me — right over there." 

Dottie smiled, and I was glad that she answered quickly. 

"Oh, no," she said, "you've still got some stuffing in your shirt." 

Mel Goodwin looked sharply at Dottie, but he saw the joke. 

"Well, there it is," he said, "and it reads like a book. How would 
you like it if I left it off for good?" 


"You look more comfortable without it," Dottie said. 

"By God," Mel Goodwin said, "I do feel more comfortable, as 
long as you're around here, Dot." 

He stood up and walked toward the chair where his blouse hung, 
and walked around it slowly. 

"Now when I was a kid at the Point," he said, "I often dreamed 
of ribbons. Maybe there comes a time when you get too many. 
Maybe I've reached that period. Maybe it's a sort of change of life. 
I've got a queer kind of a feeling." 

"What kind of a feeling?" Dottie asked. 

"That maybe I might kick and holler if anybody should happen 
to pin another cluster on me," Mel Goodwin said. "God damn, 
maybe I've been a kid all my life and now I'm growing up. Maybe 
Sid sees what I mean." 

He was looking at me in his coolest way, and I could almost be- 
lieve that he knew what I thought about ribbons. 

"Mel," I said, "you'd better remember just one thing." 

"What one thing?" he asked. 

"You'd better remember that you're too old to grow up." 

For a moment he looked deadly serious and then he smiled his 
very youngest smile. 

"Son," he said, "that crack of yours shows you know a lot about 
me and about the service. I don't believe you know how deep that 
cuts. I'm too old to grow up but I can still feel myself growing. Now 
maybe you can tell me where it's taking me." 

"I wouldn't know," I said. 

He walked across the room to the window and stood with his back 
to us, looking out into the back yards of Seventy-second Street. 

"All right," he said, "I wouldn't either, but something's got to give 
somewhere. That's right, isn't it, Dot? Something's got to give." 

'Now, Mel," Dottie said, "don't worry about it now." 

She must have been referring to something between them that they 
had often discussed before, and I could only listen, like an eaves- 

"I'm not," Mel Goodwin said. "I'm used to shoving off whenever 
I know what's cooking." 


Then his mood changed, and I was very glad it did. All the lines 
straightened on his face. 

"Why haven't you stopped me sounding off about myself ?" he 
asked. "You were saying that Sid had something on his mind. Well, 
all right, what's your problem, Sid?" It was remarkable how quickly 
things could rearrange themselves. Melville Goodwin was back again 
and in control of the situation. I was very glad to unload my own 
troubles and to get away from his. 

When I began telling how Gilbert Frary had discovered me — 
hearing my voice from the ETO — my story seemed painfully super- 
ficial. It was mostly an egocentric striving, punctuated by a few pal- 
lid efforts at escape. Once, I suppose, I had wanted to be a great 
writer or columnist, but the desire had never assumed the propor- 
tions of an emotional drive. There was a gap between mediocrity 
and greatness which I had never crossed. Mine had been the life of 
anyone in a protected peaceful era within the limits of what might 
be called free enterprise, but all the time I talked I could feel what 
it lacked in splendor. I had never been a selfless part of a cause. 
I had never tossed my life in front of me and followed it. If I had 
risked it once or twice, this had only been through accident and not 
because of concerted purpose. The ship ahead of me in a convoy had 
been torpedoed once, the windows in my hotel in London had been 
shattered once by the explosion of a bomb, but I had never advanced 
with a group of men on an enemy position. I had never commanded 
a lost hope. I had never obeyed a call. I was not a Melville Goodwin. 
All I could say in my defense was that I could see myself more clearly 
than Goodwin had ever seen himself. 

Dottie Peale had heard my story before. She sat gazing ab- 
stractedly at the pointed toe of her slipper, but Melville Goodwin 
looked straight at me, following every word, and occasionally he 

"You see, it's what I've told you, Mel," Dottie said. "Sidney is al- 
ways drifting. He simply never seems to care." 

"I don't know," Mel Goodwin said. "Sitting in on this with a 
purely outside point of view, I can make a few suggestions, but it 


seems to me Sid's done pretty well, Dot. He's getting the facts to- 
gether and waiting to take action.'* 

Gilbert Frary and the broadcasting studio had finally reached a 
military level, and Melville Goodwin's voice had a ring of complete 
authority. He had taken over my problem, and curiously enough I 
actually felt a weight being lifted from me because Melville Good- 
win was taking over. 

"I'd like your advice," I began, "but there's no reason why you 
should know much about this sort of thing.'* 

Melville Goodwin nodded. "That's all right, Sid," he said. "You've 
given me the information. All anybody ever needs is good straight 

"Be quiet," Dottie said, "don't interrupt him, Sid." 

"I wasn't going to interrupt him," I told her. 

"Well, I'm glad you weren't," Dottie said. "Now, Mel, make a 
note that I know a man who wants a news program." 

"I'm not forgetting," Melville Goodwin said. "Get me a cigarette, 
will you, Dot?" and Dottie handed him the cigarette box and picked 
up the lighter as quickly as Colonel Flax. 

"There was an officer at the St. George Hotel in African Head- 
quarters in Algiers," the General said, "named Sturmer, holding a 
temporary rank of brigadier general like me. He was just like this 
Frary, flexible and without loyalty. Did I ever tell you about Ed 
Sturmer, Dot?" 

"No, I don't think so," Dottie said. 

"Dottie always gets me talking," Mel Goodwin said. "I begin to 
forget what anecdotes I haven't told her. Now this Ed Sturmer was 
just like this Frary. You always find people like him around any 
headquarters. He wanted, to get my spot in 'Bullpup.' He was always 
telling me what a fine guy I was and how he admired me, and 
then he was always finding little facts about me and getting in to 
see the old man when I wasn't there, and giving the little facts 
an unfavorable slant. Well, I let Ed run along with it until I 
was all ready for him. Ed and I were just old buddies until I was 

Melville Goodwin rubbed his hands together. 

45 2 

"I just waited until the Old Man had Ed and me alone with him 
there in the St. George," he said, "going over a map. I remember Ed 
was holding a pointer and arguing about some little track behind 
the mountains. I interrupted him right in the middle and spoke to 
the Old Man. 

"'Sir,' I said, 'may I make a remark before General Sturmer 

" 'Yes, what is it, Mel?' the Old Man said. 

" 'Heinzy,' I said, 'Ed is going to ask you, if he hasn't asked you 
already, whether he can't have my spot in "Bullpup." If you want 
him and not me, I'd suggest you make the decision, instead of let- 
ting us both horse around like kids at a cocktail party.' " 

Melville Goodwin fixed his eyes upon me as though I were Ed 
Sturmer, and I could feel indirectly the impact of his words. 

"There are times when you've got to stick your neck out," Mel 
Goodwin said. "I was taking one hell of a gamble. Sturmer jumped 
so, he damn near dropped the pointer, but old Heinzy didn't say 
anything for a quarter of a minute. I had thrown the ball right at 

'"You're damned impertinent, don't you think, Mel?' the Old 
Man said. 

" 'Yes, sir, I think so,' I told him. 

" 'Well,' he said, 'there's no need for such shocking manners, Mel. 
Go on and consider there has been no interruption, Ed/ " 

Melville Goodwin paused as though he had reached the end of 
the story, and he grew impatient when he saw we were waiting for 

"That was all there was to it," he said. 

"But what happened?" Dottie asked. 

"God damn it, Dot," Melville Goodwin said, "nothing further 
happened. I was in 'Bullpup' until I got a piece of hardware in my 
shoulder, wasn't I?" 

It seemed to me that it was one of Melville Goodwin's better anec- 
dotes, because it ended in suspense, even if Melville Goodwin 
thought it ended perfectly. 

"Is Ed Sturmer around the Pentagon now?" I asked. 


"Hell, yes," Melville Goodwin said. "Ed's right there in the Pen- 
tagon, but that isn't the point." 

"Then what's the point?" I asked. 

"Either you or I must be pretty dumb tonight, son," the General 
said. "The point is, you've got to stick your neck out sometimes. 
You get another job lined up and then go and see this Frary." 

"Did you have another job lined up in Algiers?" I asked. 

"Listen, son," the General said, "I'm talking about you, not me. 
Three other people were asking for me, and Heinzy knew it. Maybe 
I'm not as dumb as you think I am. Dottie will go around and see 
that man for you, and now you'd better get back to Connecticut or 
Helen will pin your ears back. You have nothing further to worry 
about. Dot and I personally will handle your situation." 

"Suppose I don't want you to handle my situation?" I asked. 

Melville Goodwin smiled. 

"I used to think you knew something about women, son," he said. 
"Don't you know that Dottie will do it anyway?" 

Dottie was smiling at him affectionately, and I knew that Melville 
Goodwin was right. It was time for me to be getting home to Con- 
necticut. They wanted me to go, but I still delayed for a minute, 
because of an incongruous piece in the General's thinking that 
aroused my curiosity. 

"There's just one element that I'd like you to consider, sir," I said, 
"a rather personal element." 

It was a suitable moment to call him "sir," and that mystic mono- 
syllable was a warning signal, showing that what would follow 
had a formal and serious note. His eyes narrowed in alert interro- 

"Suppose I'm sick to death of this broadcasting and that I'd wel- 
come any opportunity to get out of it." 

Dottie shrugged her shoulders impatiently. 

"Sid's always sick of anything he's doing," she said, "and he al* 
ways has been." 

"Well," I said, "the same is true with you, Dottie. I've never 
thought of you as a contented type." 

"Oh, nuts," Dottie said, "I always stick to what I'm doing and at 


least I know what 1 want." She always would believe she knew — 
simply by affirmation. 

Melville Goodwin looked as though I had uttered a heresy and he 
stood up. I noticed that he did not have to use his hands to propel 
himself upward from the cushions of the sofa. 

"Now, Sid," he said, "now, Sid." He spoke in the gentle and 
fatherly voice that he probably used on subordinates whom he really 
liked. "You're bothered and tired, son, or you'd never have said a 
damn-fool thing like that." Then his voice changed. There was a 
ring in it of absolute and beautiful certainty. "Just take it easy, son. 
Of course you're not sick of what you're doing, because basically you 
have guts. You've got a fine position and look at that lovely home 
of yours in Connecticut. When I think of you running around loose 
in the ETO, only a Public Relations major, and I see you now, it's a 
real inspiration. Now listen to me." 

In spite of myself, his voice instilled in me a sense of guilt. I felt 
like a college football player being addressed by the coach in the 
locker room at the end of a ragged half. 

"I'm going to tell you something, son," he went on. "Do you re- 
member when that mortar shell rolled you and me into the ditch 
in Normandy? When we got up and exchanged a few words after- 
wards, I knew I was talking to a man, even if you were only a 
ninety-day wonder from the Special Services. I'd have known it if 
you'd been an entertainer in the USO, and do you know what I said 
to Goochy afterwards? I don't think I ever told you what I said to 
Goochy about Sid, did I, Dot?" 

Dottie shook her head; the echo of Mel Goodwin's voice held her 

"I said, 'Goochy, make a note of that officer's name and find out 
about him when we get the time. A lad like that ought to be in the 
line. It's too damn bad to think of his crapping around somewhere 
in back.' " 

Melville Goodwin waited, and I cleared my throat. 

"It's kind of you to tell me that, sir," I said. "It means a lot, com- 
ing from you." 

And somehow it did mean a lot. 


"The war's over. Forget it, son," he said. "YouVe got guts and 
you've got your directive too. Never neglect a directive. You've a 
lovely wife and a beautiful little girl, and you're not going to let 
them down. Now go on home and leave this to Dot and me. Good 
night, son." 

The speech was ended, and Melville Goodwin strode over to the 
table and the bottles. 

"Good night, dear," Dottie said. 

But I said one thing more to Mel Goodwin before I left. 

"I thought you sounded rather discontented yourself tonight, sir." 

I should have been taking a general stock of myself, recalling the 
amount of money I had saved, and striving to remember Clause 28 
in my contract instead of feeling a deep concern for Melville Good- 
win. A part of that concern was undoubtedly a hang-over from the 
war. You had to be loyal in the army, and whether I liked it or not, 
I was loyal to Melville Goodwin, though perhaps I was not as loyal 
to him as to the idea he represented. Roughly speaking, I suppose I 
owed a debt to all the Melville Goodwins. They had been useful a 
short while ago and they might be needed again in an uncertain 
world. He was both an individual and a symbol and he had to do 
what I expected of him. He must not be a failure. I was one of 
the Goodwin crowd and right behind Melville A. Goodwin. I was 
sure that Mel Goodwin and Dottie Peale could not have anything 
in common that would last for any length of time. As long as there 
was some sort of sensible discretion and as long as he did not con- 
tinue to quote Tennyson's "Ulysses" and as long as he did not row 
into the sunset with Dottie Peale, he would get it out of his system. 
Yet there had been some other sort of understanding between them. 
I remembered Dottie's telling him not to speak about it now and his 
saying that something had to give somewhere. . . . "That's right, 
isn't it, Dot? . . . Something's got to give. . . ." 


Time to Meet the Gang 

It was after eleven and the wind around Savin Hill was rising, 
blowing the brown leaves off the beech trees by the front door and 
sending them scuttling across the tarred drive with a sound not unlike 
the scampering of mice or squirrels across a deserted attic floor. I 
could tell that the weather was about to change, a phenomenon 
which I never noticed in New York. There were no stars and the 
house, like the weather, had an ominous and foreboding look, even 
though the bronze lanterns on either side of the front door were 
lighted, as they always were when I was late. They were old ship 
lanterns that Helen had bought at an auction, and I had not the 
least idea on what type of vessel they had belonged or what exact 
function they had performed at sea, but they never had looked as 
expatriated as they did that night. 

I unlocked the door myself because Oscar usually went off duty, 
as he called it, at ten o'clock, and Helen always tried to be careful 
about Oscar's hours. A single light was burning in the hall on a 
stand beneath the dim gold Chippendale mirror which Helen had 
also bought that summer. She had always said that antiques were 
an investment and something you could always sell if necessary — 
and it might be necessary. I began to think unpleasantly of the pos- 
sibilities of a sale in case we should need ready cash, and my imag- 
ination was so acute that I could almost hear the footsteps of auc- 
tioneers and appraisers. There was no light in the living room or 
anywhere else downstairs, except in the hall, which made me believe 
that Helen must have gone to bed. I do not know why this should 
have made me feel hurt or disappointed except that she customarily 
waited up for me. When I heard quick footsteps in the upstairs hall, 


I was sure it must be Helen, but instead it was Miss Otts with 

As soon as Farouche saw me, he bounded quickly upstairs again 
without bothering to greet me, and I knew where he was going. 
He had a one-track mind. 

"Oh, is it you, Mr. Skelton?" Miss Otts said. 

Of course it was I, and it could not well have been anyone else, 
but I could not understand why Miss Otts was still dressed in her 
tweeds because she usually retired early. 

"I thought it might be Mrs. Skelton," she said. 

"What?" I said. "Where is Mrs. Skelton?" 

"Oh, she went out for the evening," Miss Otts said, "but she said 
she would be back early. She left you a note, Mr. Skelton, on the hall 
table by the lamp." 

"Oh," I said, "thank you, Miss Otts." 

The whole day had given me a sense of insecurity. When I picked 
up the envelope from the table, I could not help thinking of the 
"Dear John" notes in the ETO. I could not imagine where Helen 
could have possibly gone. The note was hastily scrawled in pencil. 

"Darling," I read, "the Brickleys asked us over for dinner and 
bridge. You know — the ones two miles down the road who always 
keep asking us and you never want to go. When I said you were out, 
they asked me anyway. I thought I ought to go to be polite, and 
Mr. Brickley is calling for me, so don't worry, and he will bring me 
back. Farouche has been aired, but if you are in before I am, please 
look in on Camilla. The doctor says it's only grippe, but she has some 

I remembered that these people, the Brickleys, had come to call 
one Sunday in the summer, and I recalled the difficulties I had en- 
countered in making conversation with them and that later they had 
asked us to a picnic. This had been kind of the Brickleys, and they 
had said that we must be neighborly. We had all been very cordial, 
but I could not remember much more about them — except that Mrs. 
Brickley raised dogs and that they had an apartment in town for the 
winter, although they always came to the country for week ends and 
whenever else they could. Also, I had thought that Mr. Brickley 

45 8 

must have worked in town, successfully, judging from appearances. 
Nevertheless it was no time for the Brickleys to be complicating the 
picture, and I was very sorry that Helen had not stayed at home. 

"How is Camilla?" I asked. 

It was a question that other parents in other eras must have asked 
Miss Otts about other offspring, and she was ready for it. 

"She's doing very nicely," Miss Otts said, "but she called to me a 
half an hour ago. She was restless when she found that you and Mrs. 
Skelton were both out, and she's still awake. I was about to call 
Mrs. Skelton when you came in." 

I did not blame Camilla for being restless, alone with Miss Otts, 
because Miss Otts always made me restless, too. When I opened the 
door of Camilla's room, the light on her bedside table was care- 
fully shaded so that the room was dim, and the dollhouse I had 
given her and her childish books on the shelves and all her other 
small possessions were vague and shadowy. Camilla was in her blue 
flannel wrapper, lying with two pillows behind her and with a 
braid hanging over each shoulder. She looked like a miniature of 

"We've been reading," Miss Otts told me, "and we've had aspirin 
fifteen minutes ago. I think we will go to sleep in a few minutes now 
that Daddy has come home, won't we, Camilla?" 

"Yes," Camilla said. 

"Hello, dear," I said, and her cheek felt very hot when I kissed 

"And Daddy mustn't stay too long," Miss Otts said. 

It was a general observation rather than a command or a request. 

"No," I said, "Daddy won't stay too long." 

Camilla stared at me unblinkingly and did not answer until Miss 
Otts was gone. 

"You sounded funny when you said that," Camilla said. 

I could never be sure how much anyone Camilla's age saw or 
knew, and I seated myself carefully on the edge of her bed. 

"Well, I felt funny," I said. "Why don't you close your eyes and 
try to go to sleep?" 

"All right," Camilla said, and I took away one of her pillows. 


It was almost the first time I could remember that I had ever done 
anything physically helpful for Camilla. 

It had been quite a day, what with Miss Maynard at the office and 
Art Hertz and Dottie and Captain Robert Goodwin and General 
Melville Goodwin. It was difficult as always to move back to 

"Daddy?" Camilla asked. 

"What?" I answered. 

"You haven't got a drink." 

"No," I said, "that's right, I haven't." 

"Well," she said, "that's just as well." 

"You'd better go to sleep," I said. 

"Daddy?" she asked. "Where is that man?" 

"What man?" I asked. 

"That man who was a soldier." I had not known that the General 
had made any impression on her. She had not seen much of him, 
but it must have been the uniform and the ribbons. Besides, perhaps 
the memory of Mel Goodwin was still around the house and might 
stay there, as memories of Washington and Lafayette and Lee had 
persisted in other places. After all, Mel Goodwin had slept here. 

"Oh," I said, "he's being a soldier somewhere." 

"He was funny, wasn't he?" Camilla said. 

"Yes," I said, "in some ways." 

"You always laughed when he was being funny," Camilla said. 

"That's right," I said, "he told a lot of jokes." 

"Daddy?" she said. 

"What?" I answered. 

"Let's talk about something." 

"All right," I said, "let's talk." 

"About when you were a little boy." 

Camilla was the only person in the world who was interested in 
that era. I was glad to see that her eyes were half closed. I did not 
know whether it was the aspirin that was making her drowsy or 
security. Then I thought of my balloon again as I had thought of it 
during the afternoon. 

"Well," I said, "once when I was your age and I was staying with 


my uncle in Nashua, New Hampshire, he took me to a county fair." 

"What's a county fair?" Camilla asked. 

There were always gaps in experience when one dealt with child- 
hood, and I had to improvise a definition of a county fair. 

"There were all sorts of things there," I told her, " — farm animals 
and flowers and prize jams and a lady with snakes. There was a 
man who could walk on a tightrope and another man who could 
hang by his toes and drink a bottle of ginger ale." 

I thought that this would interest her, but she let the phenomenon 

"And all the children there," I told her, "had whips with whistles 
on the end of them or windmills on sticks or balloons. My uncle 
bought me a balloon." 

"What color was it?" Camilla asked. 

"Blue," I told her, and I could see the balloon again as clearly as 
though I were holding it. Its strange rubberoid smell was in my nos- 
trils, and I could hear the complaining squeaking noise when my fin- 
gers gently stroked against it. "It was on a string, and then I forgot it 
for a moment and I let the string go. It was gone, up in the air, 
and I could only stand there watching it until it was out of sight or 
almost out of sight." 

"Where is it now?" Camilla asked, and I saw she was very sleepy. 

"I don't know," I said, "but it must be somewhere. Everything 
that happens, everything you do, must be somewhere." 

I had not intended to be metaphysical, but it made no difference 
because Camilla was asleep, and I left her sleeping by the shaded 
lamp. Everything seemed in order now that Camilla was asleep. 

Farouche was waiting outside Camilla's door holding his rubber 
ring but he was not resentful when I paid no attention to him. He 
followed me downstairs patiently and hopefully, and there was still 
no sign of Helen. I had been to plenty of places without her in the 
last few years without feeling as solitary as I felt that night. It was, 
of course, the house. It had been too large for us in the first place 
and we should never have purchased it, especially with financial help 
from the broadcasting company. It was not reassuring to recall that 


Gilbert Frary had made all these arrangements and that I had paid 
no particular attention to them. I was not even sure who would own 
the place in the event of difficulties. Without Helen there, it was 
only a memorial to my own bad judgment. I did not turn on the 
lights in the living room because I did not wish to face its impact, 
but I did go into the library, which Helen had so carefully planned 
for me as a place in which to write. 

It still resembled a nook in a stately home of England and there 
was no reason why it should not have, since most of the room had 
come from stately English homes. It was a gentleman's library, and 
the trouble must have been that I was not enough of a gentleman 
for it. The chair in which Melville Goodwin had sat for so long 
was exactly where it had been. Actually the library had become more 
his room than mine, and the inflections of his voice still seemed to be 
in it. He had brought Hallowell to us there, and the woods at 
Chateau-Thierry, and North Africa and Bailey and the Philippines 
and himself. I could almost see that dripping fringe of woods on a 
July morning long ago and hear the machine guns chattering on the 
crest of the slope. 

It was a quarter before twelve and there was still no sign of Helen. 
I took a book from one of the shelves without caring what it might 
be. It was entitled General Sir Cyril Bulwythe, K.C.B., A Memoir, 
and it had been printed in 1830 by someone on the Strand. I had 
never heard of General Sir Cyril nor did I particularly wish to know 
about him, but I did turn to the last chapter, and judging from the 
crisp resistance of the pages, this was more than anyone else had 
previously done. The memoir was written in the portentous style of 
the period connecting the eighteenth century with the Victorian era. 

"The inactivity of retirement," I read, "despite the acclaim that 
was his, and the doors which were gladly open to him upon his re- 
turn from India, and the charm and social graces of Lady Bulwythe, 
ill befitted, alas, the talents of Sir Cyril, who could accept only with 
reluctance, and indeed frequently with acerbity, the routine of a 
retired army officer upon half pay. The last years of General Bul- 
wythe, instead of being replete with peace, and adding lustre to the 
honours bestowed upon him, were, alas, tumultuous, and the bottle, 


which he had eschewed as a subaltern and had faced later with a 
moderation amazing in the India service, became, alas, increasingly 
his companion. . . ." 

The front door opened, and I was very glad of it, although I did 
want at some future time to learn about the social graces of Lady 
Bulwythe. Helen had returned, and Mr. Brickley in a dinner coat 
was with her. 

"Now please come in for just a minute," I heard Helen saying in 
the front hall. "There's Sidney's hat and coat, and he'll miss not 
seeing you. Sidney's a dreadful night owl. He's never in bed at this 

"Well," I heard Mr. Brickley say, "I keep country hours in the 
country, but I'd love to stay for a minute or two." 

"Oh, Sid," Helen called. "Where are you, Sid?" 

She did not need to call me. I was already out of the library and 
craving human companionship in any form. Helen was wearing her 
Fortuny pleated dress, and if I had been Mr. Brickley I would have 
wanted to stay a few minutes myself, in spite of country hours. 

"Darling," Helen said, "you remember Mr. Brickley, don't you?" 

As I have said, I did not remember Mr. Brickley very well, and 
certainly not in a dinner coat with pearl studs. The last time I had 
seen him he had been wearing some sort of a ranching or lumber- 
jack's costume at his picnic, and the change from the country to the 
urban Mr. Brickley was dramatic. He was now like someone at the 
speakers' table at one of those dinners I used to attend when I was a 
young reporter — and you always worked hard for such an assign- 
ment because of the free food. He was bald, pinkish and good- 
natured, past fifty, about the General's age. Melville Goodwin must 
still have been on my mind, because I was comparing Mr. Brickley's 
smooth face with the General's chiseled features. Mr. Brickley had 
been leading a different life and one even more an enigma to me 
than that of Melville Goodwin. 

"Of course I remember Mr. Brickley," I said, "and thanks for 
having Helen over." 

"I did have a wonderful time," Helen said. "I wish you could 
have been there, Sid." 


"It was just the usual crowd," Mr. Brickley said, "but I will say 
we have a nice gang around here. You've got to take some time off 
and see the girls and boys." 

Helen had already turned on the lights in the living room. 

"I always thought the Winlocks' room was perfect," Mr. Brickley 
said, "but this is even better. Your wife has a real decorative sense." 

"Yes indeed she has," I answered in my sincerest voice, "and she 
has given the house a lot of thought all summer." 

"The room only needs living in now," Helen said, "and Sid al- 
ways keeps going into the library. Don't you think it would be nice 
if we lit a fire, dear?" 

Helen could fit in anywhere, and I wished that I could. I exam- 
ined the logs in the fireplace suspiciously. I knew something about 
open fires from living on my uncle's farm outside of Nashua and I 
knew how to lay logs and kindlings better than Oscar. In spite of 
the exquisite fans of paper he placed beneath them, the logs were 
always too close together. I adjusted them as well as I could, con- 
sidering the tall andirons, and then struck a match while Mr. Brick- 
ley looked on with professional interest. 

"There's nothing like puttering around with an open fire, is 
there?" Mr. Brickley said. 

"That's right," I answered. "It teaches you self-reliance." 

"Now for years," Mr. Brickley said, "a crowd of us have always 
gone up to the Restigouche — that's up in New Brunswick — to a 
little salmon-fishing club. There's a guide up there, old Walt Grant, 
who can make a fire out of almost nothing, just some birch bark 
and a few shavings he cuts with his jackknife." 

"Have you been waiting for me long, dear?" Helen asked.- 

"Oh, no," I said, "only long enough to begin reading one of those 
books you bought at the Parke-Bernet, General Sir Cyril Bulwythe, 
K.C.B., A Memoir." 

Mr. Brickley was politely interested. I must have been as strange 
to him as he was to me, but then this was the sort of thing I would 
be expected to be doing — reading a good, unusual book. 

"I don't think I ever heard of it," he said. 

"Neither had I," I answered. "I just picked it out. There were a 


lot of vacant shelves, and Helen bought an assortment at the Parke- 
Bernet to fill them up — you know, thoughtlessly — like filling in a 

"Well, I've got a lot of books myself," Mr. Brickley said, "and I 
always mean to get at them on a winter's evening, but all I ever have 
time to read is balance sheets." 

"Darling," Helen said, "did you see Camilla?" 

"Yes," I answered, "I think she's asleep now. Miss Otts said Daddy 
ought not to stay too long, and Camilla noticed I didn't have a drink 
with me. She spoke of it particularly." 

"Oh, Sid," Helen said, and I was sorry, especially when I saw 
Mr. Brickley *s expression. I was not doing right by Helen. 

"It always seems to happen that way," I said. "Helen and I usually 
have a cocktail before dinner, and then it always seems to be our 
daughter's bedtime." This apparently explained everything to Mr. 
Brickley, and we were again becoming the nice natural couple that 
Helen wanted us to be. Talking to Mr. Brickley was like learning 
to ride a bicycle and finding it was possible. 

"I'd better run up and see how Camilla is," Helen said, "and 
speaking of drinks, perhaps Tom would like one. Everything's all on 
a tray in the pantry, dear, except the ice." 

For a moment I did not know who Tom could be until I decided 
it must be Mr. Brickley. 

"Well, I don't know," Mr. Brickley said. "How about you — er — 

"I think it would be a fine idea," I said, "just a nightcap. Or there's 
beer or ginger ale." 

This put it up to Mr. Brickley. I did not especially want a drink 
and I was sure that he did not either, but we were caught in the vise 
of the amenities, and there was the danger that I might think the 
less of him if he wanted ginger ale or beer. We were like two strange 
dogs circling each other suspiciously and at the same time wagging 
our tails. 

"Oh, I'll take anything you take," Mr. Brickley said. 

He said it genially and jovially as man to man and he had handed 
the ball right back to me, as Mel Goodwin would have said. I 


thought of my unfortunate remark about Camilla, and yet it would 
not have been hospitable to have said that I would settle for ginger 
ale, although I would have very much preferred it — and I passed 
the ball back to Mr. Brickley. 

"How about a touch of Scotch?" I said, "or bourbon if you'd like 

Mr. Brickley gave the matter a moment's serious consideration. 

"Oh, not bourbon," he said, as though bourbon were going too 
far, "but I might settle for a drop of Scotch, just a drop." 

"I like Scotch better myself," I said, and everything was settled 
and the debate was over. "I'll be back with it in just a minute." 

"Let me come and help you," Mr. Brickley said. "I know my way 
around here. I was always in and out of Edgar's pantry." 

"Edgar who?" I asked. 

Mr. Brickley coughed. "Oh, I forgot you didn't know him," he 
said. "Edgar Winlock. We used to have great times at the Win- 

"I never saw him," I said, "but I always have a feeling that I've 
known him, living in the house. Sometimes I call Helen 'Mrs. Win- 

Mr. Brickley laughed nervously, and I saw I had gone too far 
again and had not made quite the right impression. 

"Just a bad marital joke," I said. "There's nothing more tiresome 
than conjugal humor." 

The word "conjugal" made it sound better, and Mr. Brickley 

"I know what you mean," he began. "Well, well, who's this?" 

It was Farouche with his rubber ring. He had become discour- 
aged when I had paid no attention to him and had gone upstairs 
to bed, but he must have heard our voices. 

"We call him Farouche," I said. 

"Here, boy," Mr. Brickley said, "come and give it to me, boy. 
One thing about the country — you can keep dogs. Maida — er — 
Mrs. Brickley, has two Scotties called Gin and Fizz. They're all over 
the house. Come here, boy." 

He was tossing the ring to Farouche when I went into the pantry. 


As I extracted ice cubes, I felt as though I were off stage. I hoped 
that Helen would be down when I returned, but Mr. Brickley was 
still alone. 

"I suppose they keep you pretty busy with that broadcasting and 
everything," Mr. Brickley said. 

"It's a steady sort of grind," I told him. 

"Well, if you ever have any time on your hands," Mr. Brickley 
said, "I hope you'll drop in to see us. Maida — er — Mrs. Brickley, 
and I are always around over week ends, and we'd like you to meet 
the crowd." 

I spoke in my sincerest voice. It sounded almost too sincere. 

"I'd certainly love to, Mr. Brickley," I said. "I'm terribly sorry I 
couldn't come to your house this evening." 

Mr. Brickley cleared his throat. "We were going to call you up 
about two weeks ago," he said, "but then we heard you had a house 
full of guests, including even a general. Your Oscar knows our 
Pedro. That's the way things get around in the country." 

We had naturally been under observation ever since we had 
bought the place, and I was under observation now, and what Mr. 
Brickley thought about me would undoubtedly get around. 

"He dropped in all of a sudden," I said, "an old friend of mine, 
Major General Melville A. Goodwin. Did you ever hear of him?" 

"Oh, yes," Mr. Brickley said. "Everybody around here has heard 
lots about him. Whenever Pedro could get off, he came over here 
to lend a hand." 

"Tell him to come often," I said. 

Mr. Brickley laughed uneasily. I had been uncouth again, but I 
could not very well undo it. 

"There's one good thing about it around here," Mr. Brickley said. 
"This is a real live-and-let-live community. You can see people or 
not, just the way you want. Do you know Maxwell Blenheim, the 
novelist? He has a place here." 

"No, I don't believe I do," I said. 

"He doesn't get around much either," Mr. Brickley said, "except 
to go down to the post office. It's a real meeting place, the post office. 
YouVe been there, haven't you?" 


"No, I don't think so," I said, "but I'm sure Helen has." 

Mr. Brickley looked disappointed. 

"And there's Arthur Phillips Stroburt, the composer," he said. 
"You know him, don't you?" 

"I think I've heard of him but I'm not sure," I answered. 

"Well, if you once get going around, you'll meet a lot of interesting 
people here," Mr. Brickley said, "and some salty country characters, 
too. You mustn't mind our interest. We were all deeply concerned 
over what might happen to the Winlock place. When Edgar passed 
out of the picture and when we heard that someone in radio had 
bought it — well, frankly we had our fingers crossed, but that was 
before we met — er — Helen. You won't mind my saying, will you, 
that there's nothing much wrong with Helen?" 

"She's always made the grade with me," I said. 

"You ought to have seen her tonight," Mr. Brickley said. "The 
gang were crazy about her, and we hope she liked us as well as we 
liked her. We've all got to be neighbors from now on, real neigh- 

Mr. Brickley raised his glass. It was an accolade, a signal of ap- 
proval by an ambassador visiting a migrant tribe, and we had quali- 

"It's nice you feel that way," I said. "I know this is a rather closed 

"Not if you're inside it," Mr. Brickley said, "and that's what I'm 
here for. We all want to see more of the Skeltons." 

Then the dialogue was over and Helen was back. 

"She was asleep," she said. "I was just arguing with Otts about 
the light beside the bed. Farouche, stop bothering Mr. Brickley." 

"He doesn't bother me," Mr. Brickley said. "No dog ever bothers 
me. Helen, I was just telling — er — your husband, that he's got to 
meet the crowd. You've got to pull him out of hiding. What about 
Saturday night? He has Saturday off, hasn't he?" 

"Call him 'Sid,' Tom," Helen said. "Of course we'd love to do 
something on Saturday. Anything you think would be fun. Maida 
can call me." 

"You gals just work out something between yourselves," Mr. 


Brickley said. "I'll tell Maida to get in touch with you. Do you play 
poker, Sid?" 

"Yes, a little, Tom," I said. 

"Well, I've got to be pushing off now," Mr. Brickley said. "Good 
night, Sid. We'll look for you on Saturday. Good night, Helen dear." 

Newspaper work, I always believed, placed one in contact with 
people from every walk of life, but Mr. Brickley must have been a 
type that never made the news. I could see, after I had followed Mr. 
Brickley to his new convertible, that I had been trying, oddly 
enough, throughout that whole innocuous conversation to be like 
Mr. Brickley, and yet I could not understand in the least why I had 
tried. What was it that had made me? Helen kissed me and she 
looked as though there had been some sort of achievement some- 

"Darling," she said, "it's wonderful, the way you get on with 

"Do you think I did all right?" I asked. 

"Darling," she said, "you were wonderful, and I was so afraid 
you wouldn't like him. It's been worrying me all evening." 

There was an atmosphere of triumph, a sense of the bridging of a 
gap, and she was so happy and excited that she seemed to have for- 
gotten that something had been distressing me when she called me 
earlier at the office. She was like a girl who had been a great success 
as a stranger at a dance and could talk about nothing else. 

"What made you think I wouldn't like him?" I asked. 

"Oh, I don't know," she said. "You're so unpredictable sometimes. 
I was so afraid you would think he was dull or stuffy or something." 

"I don't see why you should think I'd think that," I said. 

"I kept wishing you were there all evening," she said. "Everybody 
was so awfully nice and — outgoing." 

"Outgoing where?" I asked. 

"Darling," Helen said, "please don't spoil it all by being critical. 
They really were awfully nice. Oh, I know if I were to describe it, 
it would sound simple and corny — I wish no one had ever invented 
that word. We just talked about the neighborhood and power lawn 
mowers and tree infusions and things like that." 


"Tree infusions?" I repeated. 

"There's a new sort of thing they do for trees," Helen said. 
"There's a sort of liquid full of nitrogen and things that they force 
down among the roots under pressure." Helen laughed; she was 
very happy. "It sounded like forcible feeding." 

"Why do they have to be fed forcibly?" I asked. 

"I don't know," Helen said, "but I have the address of a man who 
does it." 

"How much does it cost?" I asked. 

"I don't know," Helen said, "but you don't have to do it every year 
and not to every tree. Darling, they were really awfully nice, and it 
was such fun talking about ordinary things for a change . . . like 
children's jodhpurs, and the Country Day School. ... It was all so 
homey. I know how you object to the word 'homey' but I don't 
know any other way to say it." 

"There must be some other way," I said. 

"Darling," Helen said, "please don't spoil it all." 

I took her hand and held it tight. 

"I won't spoil it," I told her. "I'm awfully glad you had such a. 
good time." 

"I'm awfully glad you're getting used to everything," she said. 
"You are, aren't you, dear?" 

"Yes, of course I am," I told her. 

"And you did like Tom, didn't you?" 

"Tom?" I repeated. 

"Tom," she said, "Tom Brickley." 

"Yes, I thought he was swell," I said. "I always like people, Helen, 
when I get a chance to know them." 

"If you like him you can't help liking all the rest of them." 

"The gang?" I said. 

"Sid, please don't say it in that way. All right then, the gang." 

"Of course I'll like them if you do, Helen," I said. 

"Darling, I've been so worried ever since we've been here," Helen 
said, ". . . oh, not exactly worried, but wondering whether you'd 
ever get to like it and whether we could fit in or whether we'd have 
to move somewhere else. Sid, I can't tell you how happy I feel. You've 


never belonged anywhere and I haven't either, not in Delaware or 
anywhere. I've always been someone just passing through, and now 
I really think we're going to belong here. I can't tell you how happy 
it makes me feel. It's like having loose ends tied up tight." 

I began wanting to find an end that was not tied up, but then I 
had always been that way and perhaps it was time to stop — as long 
as I did not have to see the gang too continually. 

"Of course we're going to belong here, Helen," I told her. 

I was still holding her hand. Melville Goodwin had been absolutely 
right. I had what he called my directive. I would have to do some- 
thing right away about Gilbert Frary and Art Hertz. I could not let 
Helen down if she wanted to belong. If she wanted it, I wanted to 
belong myself, and if she wanted to feed trees forcibly, I wanted to 
arrange that she could do it. I wanted her to have everything she 
wanted. It was about time I pulled up my socks and put my mind 
on it. 

"Darling," Helen said, "this is such a wonderful place for chil- 
dren. ... I really do think we ought to think about having another 


It Was a Lot of Fun with Goochy 

It had been Gilbert Frary's pet idea, as I have said before — and 
Gilbert always did have an instinct for showmanship — to move the 
broadcast about the country. This gave the broadcast, as Gilbert said, 
an on-the-spot reporting flavor and what he called, in vaguer terms, 
the illusion of motion. It may have had its value, this illusion that I 
was doing my own leg work and contacting the news at first hand, 
as Gilbert put it. If I started a broadcast by saying, "Good evening, 
friends. I am speaking to you from Washington tonight" — or Lon- 
don or Paris or wherever Gilbert wanted me — perhaps the listeners 
did think of me as Sid Skelton, the news hawk, ferreting out his own 
facts after confidential talks with heads of governments, instead of 
getting them off the teletype and having Art Hertz prepare them. 

It was an expensive process, but the Crosley rating of the program 
proved its value, and besides, George Burtheimer, the sponsor out in 
Chicago, was the head of a corporation that could write the expenses 
off on the tax return instead of giving them, as Gilbert Frary put it, 
to Uncle Sam for buying up potatoes. As Gilbert said, it was all just 
nickels to George Burtheimer, and Gilbert always did like to make 
arrangements for a show. Though he was still out in Hollywood, he 
had perfected all the arrangements by remote control. For instance, 
I was to be in Washington ostensibly looking into the Chinese situa- 
tion, and somehow Gilbert had contrived to get the State Depart- 
ment interested, and finally a man from the Department named 
Hubert Stillwater was to have a three-minute spot in which he 
would tell me all about China. 

"I just happen to be sitting now," I was to say, "with my old friend, 
Hubert Stillwater, one of our State Department's 'think men/ We 
have been just discussing the implications of Chinese Communism, 

47 2 

and perhaps Mr. Stillwater would not mind repeating to you what he 
has just been telling me. How about it, Hubert?" 

This was not an original idea of Gilbert Frary's, since other com- 
mentators had been doing this sort of thing for years, but, as Gilbert 
Frary said, a good idea was a good idea, and if it was good for 
them, why shouldn't it be for me. If somebody else started by say- 
ing, "Good evening, everybody," there was nothing to stop my say- 
ing, "Good evening, friends," which was also Gilbert Frary 's idea 
and what he termed a warmer and more human salutation. After all, 
as Gilbert said, you had to start by saying something, and I had as 
much right to talk as any other commentator. 

I had spent long periods of time in Washington when I had been 
on the paper and I knew the city as a reporter knows it. In those days 
I rented a single room without a bath in a lodginghouse on B Street, 
NE, in order to be near the Capitol, to which I was generally as- 
signed. B Street, NE, was not much of a district, but then I was 
seldom at home except to sleep, what with all the calls I had to make. 
My evenings, if I had free time, I usually spent at the Press Club, 
where you could hear some pretty funny stories and get into a card 
game if you wanted. It had been a hectic life, with every day rushing 
into every other in a way that is difficult to describe to anyone who 
has not led it. Helen could never understand my activities when I 
tried to explain them to her. She only said it must have been dreadful, 
and she did not sympathize when I told her that I always wished I 
were back on the bureau again whenever I returned to Washington. 

Well, things were different now. I did not stop at B Street, NE, 
any more. Instead I was lodged in one of those peculiar diplomatic 
suites at the Hotel Mayflower, all done in Empire and damask, de- 
signed apparently for foreign potentates with an entourage of equer- 
ries. We did not need the entire suite, because Gilbert would not be 
there, but still, there was the entourage. There was Sammy Kohn, 
who always traveled with the show to handle transportation reserva- 
tions and general broadcasting arrangements. Then there was Miss 
Maynard, who always seemed to come along largely for decorative 
purposes but who answered the telephone and helped out Sammy 
more than she ever helped me. Then there was Art Hertz and Miss 


Olson, his secretary, and one of the boy ushers named Jimmy, who 
handled bags and typewriters and poured drinks for callers and who 
looked like a Yale undergraduate, now that he was out of uniform. 

The suite and the entourage were all there ready and waiting for 
me, when I arrived from New York at eleven in the morning, but 
there was not the customary flair to the expedition with Gilbert 
Frary away in Hollywood. We all seemed like automatons, without 
Gilbert's showmanship to pull us together, and there was also a per- 
functory quality in everyone's attitude toward me which was even 
more noticeable than it had been in New York. The atmosphere 
seemed to be charged with impending change, and I felt somewhat 
as Bonnie Prince Charlie must have felt after the Battle of Culloden 
— still the boss but a falling star. Sammy naturally gave me the 
largest room, but he did not buzz around as he had formerly. Art 
Hertz was in the adjoining room, and I noticed that Jimmy, who was 
unpacking his bags, did not leave them to take care of mine. There 
were two adjoining sitting rooms, one for Art and Sammy and me, 
and the other for the girls, who had already set up their typewriters. 
We were all one big happy family. 

"Art," I called through the connecting door, "is your room all 

Art entered my room in his shirt sleeves. 

"Everything's swell, Sid," he said. "I've begun on a first draft — 
without waiting for you." 

There was nothing to criticize in the way he said it except that his 
manner was unduly positive. 

"Go right ahead," I told him, "and see this man Stillwater, too. I 
won't bother you with any thoughts today." 

"I didn't mean it that way, Sid," Art said. 

"Oh, that's all right, Art," I told him, "and when Gilbert calls up 
from the Coast, talk to him yourself, I have a lot of personal things 
on my mind." 

"Sid," Art said again, "I didn't mean it that way." 

"Neither did I," I told him. "I only mean this whole show runs like 
clockwork when I'm not here." 

I smiled my sincerest smile. I had never enjoyed snide little wars of 


words, but my instinct for self-preservation told me that the time had 
come for some serious personal planning. 

"I don't know what's troubling you today, Sid," Art began, "but if 
I've done anything you don't like, I wish you'd specify." 

Of course there was nothing to specify, and nothing could have 
been gained by having it out with Art Hertz, who was only a straw 
in the wind. 

"Don't you ever get depressed, Art?" I asked. "I'm only under- 
going a mild fit of depression, that's all. Don't worry about me. I'll 
get over it." 

It was like asking the dealer for one card at poker and then tossing 
in a blue chip. 

"Well, don't be depressed," Art said. "Everything is going fine." 

I smiled my sincerest smile at Art again and walked into the sitting 
room and called Miss Maynard. I had already made my business 
plans and contacts. Dottie Peale had taken over as she had said she 
would, and I had seen my lawyers and Dottie's friend in White Wall 
Rubber. It was time to put my cards into order according to suit 
and value. 

"Miss Maynard," I said, "will you get me Mr. George Burtheimer 
in Chicago, please?" 

I said it loudly enough so that Art could not miss hearing it, and 
Art did not miss. 

"Say, Sid," he said, "you know how Gilbert feels about anyone else 
talking to Burtheimer." 

"That's all right," I said. "I'm feeling lonely," and I observed that 
both Miss Maynard and Art looked flustered. 

"But there isn't anything to bother him about," Art said. 

"Now, Art," I said, "I won't bother him." 

The telephone was a wonderful invention. I only had time to sit 
down and smoke half a cigarette before Mr. Burtheimer was on the 
line, and by then all the connecting doors of the suite were open and 
everyone was listening. 

"Hello, George," I said. "I'm here in Washington and I'm feeling 

Then I asked him what he was doing for breakfast the next morn- 


ing. I said I was lonely and I wanted to have breakfast with him and 
I told him that I could take a night plane to Chicago. Then I asked 
Miss Maynard to see about a reservation. I had been thinking over 
this plan for several days, and I was gratified by the general reaction. 
"Say, Sid," Art said, "have you told Gilbert anything about this?" 

"Why, no, Art," I said. "The impulse just came over me," but I 
was sure that Gilbert Frary would hear about it in a very little while. 

"But what about tomorrow night ? " Art said. 

"Oh, I'll be back in New York in time," I told him. "You write it 
and I'll read it, Art." 

When it came to office infighting with all its ridiculous nuances, 
ofTense was always preferable to defense, and clearly no one had 
expected a definite step like this. At least Bonnie Prince Charlie had 
put the whole crowd of! balance, and now that the lines were drawn, 
it was only necessary to let matters take their course. There was no 
need to embarrass Art Hertz by staying in the suite for the next few 
hours. All I required was some good excuse to leave, and I thought 
of Melville Goodwin as a valid one. I had the Goodwins* number in 
Alexandria, and I did not want to confuse the entourage any more 
by calling anyone whom they might think had something to do with 

"Will you please get me General Goodwin," I told Miss Maynard, 
and of course Miss Maynard would tell everyone else that I was only 
going to see an army general. 

I reviewed, as I waited for the call, everything I had heard about 
the house in Alexandria which was owned or rented by Colonel Bud 
Joyce of G-2, and which had sheltered Muriel Goodwin and young 
Charley through the war years. It would certainly be in a new devel- 
opment and I could imagine the living room with its collection of 
signed photographs. There would also be some sort of sun porch, and 
somewhere the card table with its picture puzzle. When I did not 
recognize the voice of the woman who answered, I knew that Enid 
Joyce must be speaking. The General — that is, Mel — was not in, but 
Mrs. Goodwin — that is, Muriel — was right there, and she knew 
that Muriel would be so delighted I had called up, and she would get 
Muriel in just a second. 


"Muriel," I heard her calling, "Muriel," and I gathered that Muriel 
Goodwin was doing something in the kitchen, because I heard the 
opening of a door. 

There was often a discouraging anticlimax in the sound of a dis- 
embodied voice, but Muriel Goodwin's had a clear, executive assur- 
ance, surprisingly like that in the voice of Dottie Peale. Both voices 
had the same contagious warmth and enthusiasm, artificial perhaps, 
but nevertheless peculiarly effective. 

"Now let's see," she said. "We must make plans. Mel will be furi- 
ous if he doesn't see you right away. He's at the Pentagon, and I'll 
have him call you, and what are you doing after the broadcast to- 

I could see what Mel Goodwin meant about her taking over. She 
had read all about the broadcast, and she kept on planning even after 
I told her I was taking a night plane to Chicago. 

"We'll take you to the airport," she said. "We're having a steak fry 
in the back yard tonight. If it's too cold we can eat them in the house, 
but everything always tastes better outdoors. ... It won't be any 
trouble at all, Sid. Mel or someone can take you to the airport. It's 
really only a step." 

She had all of Dottie Peak's executive powers, and an even greater 
certainty. It was impossible to tell her that I did not want to be in a 
dimly lighted Alexandria yard on a cold November evening, meeting 
strange people from the armed services, or that food, for my money, 
always tasted better indoors than out. I could smell the steaks as she 
was speaking. I could see myself coping with one on a paper plate 
while I also tried to handle one of Melville Goodwin's Martinis. 

"That sounds wonderful," I heard myself saying. 

No people in the world were more hospitable than service people. 
There was an invariable disregard for ordinary limitations. All I had 
to do was to wait right where I was, and she would get hold of Mel, 
and Mel would call me. All I had to do was wait until I had heard 
from Mel. 

I did not have to wait more than a few minutes either, before the 
telephone rang. Muriel Goodwin had set the wheels in motion, and 
the army was in control. A captain by the name of Rattisbone was on 


the telephone. General Goodwin was at a meeting which he could 
not leave, but the General was looking forward to seeing me the mo- 
ment he was free. In the meanwhile, if I would wait just where I 
was, Captain Rattisbone would get a car from Public Relations and 
call for me. The army had taken over and Captain Rattisbone would 
be at the Hotel Mayflower in a very few minutes. 

It was not so long ago that my own job in the army had included 
meeting Very Important People, an assignment taxing one's capacity 
to please and demanding tact and adroitness, but now I was the VIP 
and I was in a position to admire Captain Rattisbone's technique. He 
reminded me of a registered human retriever who could go on a 
complicated liaison mission and who could bring back VIPs alive, 
unruffled, and contented, to any designated point. He would get me 
where I was going, though he might agree to stop momentarily en 
route so that I might purchase a pack of cigarettes, razor blades or a 
pint of bourbon. He would get me there and he would do it no mat- 
ter what. His uniform was impeccable. His European and his Asiatic 
theater ribbons and Infantry Combat badge were just enough and 
not too much for his rank. His hair was a golden molasses color. His 
eyes were discreetly gray and his nose, mouth and chin were in- 
genuous and beautiful, but firm. I could not help wondering what 
Robert Goodwin would have thought of him. They both looked the 
same age and they had been classmates, perhaps, at the Point — un- 
doubtedly the Point. 

"It's a great pleasure to meet you, Mr. Skelton, sir," he said. 

His gaze moved incuriously about the sitting room until it stopped 
with Miss Maynard, but Miss Maynard did not deflect him. 

"It's very kind of you to come and get me, Captain," I said. 

"It's a real pleasure for me, sir," the captain answered. "Are you 
ready to start now, Mr. Skelton?" 

I was in the army again, and I picked up my hat and coat. 

"What about your baggage, sir?" he asked. 

"Baggage?" I repeated after him. "I'll come back here for my 
suitcase, Captain." 

A shadow of concern crossed Captain Rattisbone's face. 

"The General said you were bringing baggage, sir," he said. "The 

47 8 

General is planning to see you off on the night plane to Chicago." 

"The General must have misunderstood," I said. "I'll have to be 
back here later, Captain." 

He looked as though I were the one who had misunderstood and 
not the General. 

"I'll explain to him about my bag," I said. 

"Thanks very much, sir," the captain answered. 

We did not speak in the elevator or while we crossed the lobby, but 
I knew he was trying to place me, and my silence may have indi- 
cated to him that this sort of experience was not entirely new to me. 
The Army Public Relations car stood at the curb. 

"No baggage," the captain said to the driver, who held the door 
open, and then he seated himself beside me. 

"Would you care for a cigarette, sir?" he asked. 

"No thanks," I said, and of course he could not smoke alone. 
Neither of us spoke again until we turned left off Constitution 

"We've been enjoying a wonderful autumn in Washington this 
year," he said. 

"Yes," I answered, "it looks like a pretty good autumn. Are you 
with General Goodwin now?" 

"No, sir," he said, "with General Gooch, but General Goodwin is 
using General Gooch's office for the present." 

"General Gooch was General Goodwin's chief of staff over in 
France, wasn't he?" I asked. 

"Yes, sir," the captain answered. "Did you serve with General 
Goodwin in France, sir?" 

Captain Rattisbone had stuck his neck out slightly, which proved 
that he was not absolutely perfect. I was absurdly pleased that he had 
guessed that I had been in the army. 

"No," I said, "but I did meet him there. The General isn't hard to 
meet, is he?" 

"No, sir," he answered. "The General's really been around a lot." 

"Yes," I said, "and he knows a lot of good stories." 

The captain brightened. We were on safe ground at last. 

"He really does," the captain said. "Did he ever tell you the one 


about that orderly of his at Schofield who was drinking his liquor?" 

"The one about liquids seeking their own level?" I asked. 

"That's the one, sir," the captain said. "He really does know a lot 
of stories." 

"Has he been given any sort of assignment yet?" I asked. 

"I wouldn't know, sir," the captain answered, "but I don't believe 
so — not yet." 

I should not have asked the question and his words became more 
measured, but suddenly he relaxed. 

"We've all got our fingers crossed," he said, and his tone had 
changed. "Everybody's right behind the General, but you know the 
way those things are." 

"Yes," I answered, "I have a pretty good idea." 

I was back in the army again. I almost wished that I were back in 
uniform — almost, but not quite. We were drawing up to the River 
entrance of the Pentagon, with the two flagpoles and the Stars and 
Stripes on the bank in front. I glanced at Captain Rattisbone. The 
captain was not the sort of officer to be easily impressed. I remem- 
bered what the General had said about staff officers — that he never 
had been able to get along with them, although he had often been 
one himself. It must be that he had developed if he could impress a 
smoothy like Rattisbone. Somehow in the last few years Mel Good- 
win had learned how to handle any sort of troops. 

The Pentagon, I was thinking, was the greatest military monu- 
ment in the world, dwarfing the Invalides and Napoleon's tomb in 
Paris. The whole intricate structure — complex yet severely designed 
corridors and moving staircases and ramps — was a stony tribute to 
military planning and as much a logical projection of its predilections 
as were the filing systems and the top-secret documents and requisi- 
tions all done in quintuplet. It was endless and labyrinthian and, 
characteristically, had already grown too small for the clerical staffs 
and the documents that occupied it. It was the glorified temple of 
the services, and I could feel the invisible arms of discipline surround 
us as Captain Rattisbone and I walked up the steps. 

It was a relief to see that the captain was moving forward confi- 


dently, because I often lost my sense o£ direction in the Pentagon. He 
looked as though he had been made to fit the building. Exactly, I 
was thinking, who was Captain Rattisbone ? What had he been once 
and where had he come from ? I should probably never know, and if 
I did, this sort of knowledge would never help me to understand him 
any more than I understood Melville Goodwin. You had to make 
your sacrifices to be in his group. You had to turn your back on early 
associations. In a way, you had to develop a passion for anonymity 
when you became a part of the machine. Yet there were compensa- 
tions for sacrifice — quarters, allowances, low prices at the commis- 
sary, retirement pay, opportunity to travel and opportunity to die with 
your boots on. The Pentagon itself was as much a monument to 
dedication as a monastery. 

"This way, sir," the captain said when we stepped off the moving 
staircase. "Did you ever hear the story about the Western Union mes- 
senger boy who got lost in the Pentagon?'* 

I winced slightly, though I endeavored not to show it. 

"It seems to me I have," I said, "but maybe Fve forgotten it.'* 

"The one about his being lost for a year," the captain said, "and 
coming out an Air Force colonel?" 

I laughed politely. 

"Oh, yes," I said, "I remember that one now." 

The captain glanced at me doubtfully, and I remembered that a 
sense of humor was seldom a career asset below field rank. Still, it 
was not a bad story to tell a VIP. 

"I suppose it is what you might call an old chestnut, sir," he said. 

"Well, not entirely," I told him. "Did you ever hear the one about 
the officer who moved his desk into the men's room?" 

Captain Rattisbone's step lost its briskness and his face looked 

"I guess maybe Fve been sticking my neck out, sir," he said. 

"Only a very little way, Captain," I told him. 

"You see, you've got to watch your neck around here, sir," he said. 

I knew how right he was. The corridor was taking us toward 
heights where every junior measured his words, if he knew what was 
good for him. We were nearing the thrones of the hierarchy. Young 


Rattisbone was near the end of his assignment and we were soon to 
part, and I would never learn anything more about him. He was 
opening a door on our right. 

"This way, sir," he said. 

We entered the outer room of a suite of offices, but the captain did 
not pause. Having led me past a row of empty leather upholstered 
chairs, his hand dropped tentatively on the knob of a closed door. 
He turned it noiselessly and pushed the door cautiously, ready to 
close it discreetly if we had arrived at an unpropitious moment. If it 
were not for his uniform so immaculately pressed, Captain Rattis- 
bone might have been a street fighter leading a patrol, but every- 
thing must have been all right inside because he turned his head 
toward me, nodded and opened the door wide. 

"Will the General see Mr. Skelton now?" he asked. 

Then I heard Mel Goodwin's voice. 

"Hell, yes," I heard him say. "Don't keep him waiting outside." 

"You can go right in, sir," Captain Rattisbone said, and he walked 
behind me as though I might turn and escape. 

The offices were very comfortable in that part of the Pentagon. I 
have never heard who was responsible for the interior decoration, 
but whoever it was understood the value of setting. I was in a fine 
room carpeted in crimson. A massive mahogany desk stood in front 
of three broad windows that looked out over the Potomac. There 
was the inevitable leather couch that one seldom sat upon and the 
heavy chairs that one seldom used and the lighter ones which could 
be arranged in hasty groups around the desk. An oil portrait of a 
very antiquated soldier in a chokingly high-necked uniform hung 
upon the wall. Melville Goodwin was standing near the desk with 
the cold light from the windows upon him. In fact I was sure that 
he had been sitting on the corner of the desk gazing at the river 
when the captain had first opened the door. He was in his "A" uni- 
form and he looked very well. 

"Well, well, Sid," he said. "So you got him, did you, Captain ? Did 
he come without making trouble?" 

Captain Rattisbone laughed appreciatively. 

"There wasn't any fuss, sir," he said. 


Melville Goodwin smiled. 

"You know, Sid," he said, "you can send this Rattisbone for any- 
thing, and by God, he always gets it." He smiled at the captain gra- 
ciously. "And he's been very kind to the old man. Just a minute now 
before you duck out and leave us here, Captain. I've never asked — 
are you married, son?" 

"Yes, sir," Captain Rattisbone said. 

"Well," the General said, "Saint Paul said it's a fine institution, but 
I don't see where he found the time to learn about it. We're frying 
steaks at home tonight. Why don't you and Mrs. Rattisbone come 
over if you haven't anything else to do?" 

"Thank you very much, sir," the captain said. 

"And when you go out, see if you can find General Gooch and tell 
him I'm hungry, will you? Tell him Mr. Skelton's here, and it's time 
for lunch." 

"Yes, sir," the captain said. 

The General and I stood watching the door as it closed noiselessly 
behind Captain Rattisbone. 

"You know, that's a very nice lad," he said, "when you get to 
know him." 

"He looks as though he might be," I said. 

"And he's got a sense of humor," the General said, "when you get 
to know him." 

"I wouldn't put it beyond him," I said. "He started to go through 
the whole Pentagon joke book." 

"Oh boy," Melville Goodwin said, and the corners of his mouth 
twisted, "wait until I tell Goochy that Rattisbone was trying to 
tell you Pentagon stories. God damn, it's nice to see you, Sid. I was 
just telling Goochy this morning that he can have this whole place if 
he wants it, even this portrait here." He nodded in a friendly way 
toward the picture on the wall and took a step toward it. "Do you 
know who that's a picture of?" 

"No," I answered, "unless it's Zachary Taylor." 

"No, no, no," Melville Goodwin said. "You ought to bone up on 
your history, Sid. I've been reading some lately. It puts me to sleep if 
I wake up in the middle of the night. That's one thing about being 


here — I'm getting time to catch up on my reading. . . . No, no, of 
course it isn't Zachary Taylor. It's General Winfield Scott — old 
'Fuss and Feathers.' " 

"Oh," I said, "well, it's quite a picture." 

"Goochy always goes for old portraits," the General said. "He 
snaked this one out of the Secretary's office. It was sent down origi- 
nally from the Point. Goochy had the choice of that or the Peach 
Orchard at Gettysburg. He picked out Scott. He says it's more in- 

"It certainly is an interesting portrait," I said. 

Melville Goodwin cleared his throat. 

"I've been in two meetings this morning," he said, "or I'd have 
gone over to get you myself. They're going to decide what to do with* 
me any day now. It's been sort of tense here this morning. I wonder 
what's happened to Goochy." 

We both were unnatural in the formality of the office, with Win- 
field Scott staring at us. Melville Goodwin cleared his throat again. 
I could see that he was waiting to introduce me to General Gooch 
and that he was rather reluctant to start talking when we would be 
interrupted at any moment. 

"Come to think of it," Melville Goodwin said, "Muriel was pretty 
tense this morning, too. I wonder whether she knows something I 
don't or whether it's just this steak fry. I'm glad we're throwing a 
party, now you're here, Sid." 

General Goodwin was an old hand in dealing with tensions. He 
knew only too well how to handle hours and minutes of suspense, 
each of which had its own peculiar agony. He had built up an im- 
munity to tension until he could handle it as a heavy drinker handled 
whisky, and he was not abnormally gay or calm. Still he was talking 
more than usual, for example about that portrait of General Winfield 
Scott, and his voice sounded as it had at Saint-L6 after all the final 
orders had been given and the watches had been synchronized. I even 
began to feel tense myself. 

"To go back to pictures," he was saying, "I've never had much to 
do with them but I did buy one in Tientsin once. A curio dealer 
brought it around to the quarters wrapped in a piece of cloth, the 


way people carry things in China — one of those pictures wound on 
a stick." He swayed from his toes to his heels with his hands clasped 
behind him. "It was a painting of an old man in a blue robe. He had 
a poker face, if you ever saw one, and long thin white mustaches — 
what they call an ancestor portrait — and I'll tell you why I bought 

He was growing interested in his own train of thought. The in- 
fantry barracks of that crowded treaty port and the bare, sharply 
defined landscape of North China were all undoubtedly filed away 
in his memory for future reference. 

"I bought it because no one, not even a Chinaman, could have 
looked so disciplined. I paid thirty dollars for it — that is, thirty dol- 
lars Mex. It was an idealized picture. I used to look at it and wish 
that I could develop that discipline. Now I don't believe in unreality 
as a rule, but I grew to believe in that old boy in blue. He had more 
guts than old Winfield Scott here because he wasn't real." 

"Mel," I said. He turned his head toward me quickly and he must 
have suspected that I was going to say something that was out of line 
with convention. I was verging on a familiarity that I would never 
have ventured on a few weeks before. 

"Mel," I said, "has anything happened to you?" 

It was the bluntest and most personal question I had ever asked 
him, and when he listened he looked like the old man in blue. 

"What makes you think so, son?" he asked. 

I was too old for him to call me son, but there was still that ten- 
year gap in our ages. There was no implied rebuke in the way he 
called me "son." On the contrary, it was more like an acceptance of 
a closeness in our relationship and an invitation to me to continue. 

"Because I think you're pretty wound up this morning," I told 

I could see him thinking it over, but something inside him had 

"Right," he said, "you're right on that one, son." 

He walked over to the windows behind the desk and stared out at 
the river. Then he walked back to where I was standing, slowly, 
softly on that soundproof red carpet. 


"I've been going through a lot lately, emotionally, I mean. I can 
handle it, but at the same time . . . Do you ever get hunches, son?" 

"Yes," I said, "occasionally." 

"Well, it isn't a bad idea to respect them," he said. "I've noticed the 
further along a man gets, the more he's got to live with himself and 
with a few hunches that come to him out of the air. There gets to be 
less and less to lean on except yourself and whatever it is that makes 
you go, and the hell of it is you don't know what that something is, 
except that it's a combination of everything that's behind you, and 
you'd better not get too analytical or you'll lose your grip. Do you 
think I'm talking sense?" 

I nodded, and his glance moved slowly over the office and the 
woodwork and the leather upholstery. 

"I don't usually run on this way," he said, and he squared his 
shoulders in a movement that was almost imperceptible, because his 
shoulders were always squared. "But this is all pretty new to me — 
all the setting around here, I mean — not the facts. This is up pretty 
close to the throne, a lot too close for comfort, and the air is God- 
damned rarefied, but hunches are hunches anywhere and I still know 
a hunch when I meet one. It begins in the stomach and travels 
through the liver and then gets up into the head. It runs all through 
you finally. Right now I feel the way I felt at Maule, for instance, 
when no information was coming in. There's something inside me 
that keeps talking from my guts. Something is saying, 'Listen, Mel, 
you're going to get it one way or the other. Be ready to take it, Mel.' " 

I was so completely captured by his stark eloquence that I was 
bracing myself for whatever it was that was coming. 

"The dice are coming out of the box, son," he said. "I'm either go- 
ing to get patted on the head or get kicked in the pants, and it's 
about time, too. Jesus, the air's thin here, and I don't want to talk to 
Muriel about it any more either. By God, I wish there was a war." 

He rubbed his hand over the back of his closely cropped head. It 
was one of his few indecisive gestures. 

"Have you seen Dottie lately?" he asked. 

He asked it abruptly, as though he were changing the subject, but 
his mood was not changed. 


"No," I answered, "not since that night." 

"I haven't either," he said. "Perhaps it's just as well." 

He stopped, seeming to hope that I would make some answer that 
would be reassuring. 

"This damn business," he said slowly. "It's funny how many times 
I've had to lecture other officers on woman trouble and now I don't 
seem to have the build to handle it myself. New York's too close to 

He had passed me a memorandum for my comment and initials, 
and he was waiting. 

"I could say something pretty obvious," I said, "but I don't want 
to make you sore." 

"Now, Sid," Mel Goodwin said, "you won't make me sore. I've 
stuck my neck out, haven't I ? It's right out there a mile." 

"All right," I said. "It might be a good idea if you were to pass up 
Dottie Peale." 

I thought he would be the old man in blue again and put on a 
poker face, but instead he waited anxiously for me to go on. Of 
course I could have given him reasons in chapter and verse, but he 
knew all the reasons as well as I did. When it came to woman 
trouble, he had a perfectly good academic knowledge. 

"Sid," he said, "you're a damn nice boy." 

"I'm glad you still think so," I answered. "You know I'm only 
talking sense, don't you?" 

"You never did approve of this thing, did you?" he said. "Not right 
from the beginning." 

"I wouldn't take Dottie too seriously," I said, "if I were you." 

I was being disloyal to Dottie, and I knew how he felt about loy- 
alty, but then he was having trouble with his own loyalties. 

"All right," he said, "all right. I know how it all looks. Don't tell 
me. But there's only one trouble with your suggestion. I'm just not 
able to take it, son." 

I had to admire his frankness. He had spent most of his life deal 
ing in problems of fact and he could apply the principles to himself. 

"Doesn't it occur to you that this is only a phase ?" I began. "Nearly 
everyone goes through something like this sometime." 


Melville Goodwin nodded and he stared at the floor as though it 
were a map. 

"Yes, I know," he said. "You Ve got it all on your side. I've said 
that to other people and I've said it to myself, but I can only deal 
with the foreseeable future. I don't know whether it's a phase or not. 
The trouble is, I love her." 

If he had only said it with more emotion, it would have been easier 
to discount. Instead he made the statement sound inescapable. 

"All right," I said, "but do you think she loves you?" 

"I wouldn't know," he said. "She says so, and I hope she does." 

For a second the picture was all there in black and white, without 
a bit of shading. Then an instant later it was gone, because the door 
opened just as Melville Goodwin finished speaking, and Dottie Peale 
and all his storm and stress were snapped away into the compartment 
reserved for his top secrets. His face cleared and the whole office be- 
came bare and impersonal. 

"Hello, Goochy," Mel Goodwin said. "Where the hell have you 
been? Let's go in to lunch, and I want you to meet my friend, Sid 
Skelton, General Gooch." 

As soon as I saw General Gooch, I realized that I had met him be- 
fore in Normandy but I had not placed him as the General's chief of 
staff. That absurd army nickname, "Long John" Gooch, was the 
reason for my error. It was one of those heavily humorous army ef- 
forts. Instead of being tall, he would have been in the shortest squad 
at the Point, which was undoubtedly the reason they had called him 
"Long John," unless they had given him the name because his face 
was long and concave. 

Small army men always looked sterner and tougher than their 
larger counterparts. Their faces were always more mobile and more 
deeply lined. They always had a staccato quality, perhaps to compen- 
sate for size, or perhaps all small officers who got anywhere possessed 
a high emotional quotient. At any rate General Gooch looked very 
tough. His dish face was leathery and hard and it contorted itself in 
an almost painful way when he smiled, and even his smile had a sour 
tinge that fitted the rasp in his voice. 

"Glad to meet you, sir," he said, 


He did not look as though he were glad to meet me. He made me 
feel as though I were both an interruption and an unfortunate weak- 
ness of General Goodwin's. He seemed to be trying to figure out why 
under the sun a first-rate officer like his old chief wanted to give any- 
one like me a minute of his time, but then there was the loyalty. If 
Goodwin wanted it that way, Gooch could take it, too, and his face 
contorted itself again in his effort to take it. 

"You got here all right, did you?" he asked. 

"Yes, thanks," I answered, "I got here." 

In the seconds of awkward silence that followed, I saw Mel watch- 
ing us both affectionately, but at the same time professionally. 

"Let's get lunch, Goochy," he said. 

"Where do you want to go, sir?" General Gooch asked. 

Melville Goodwin smiled happily and spoke with a sort of artificial 

"We're going to have lunch in there in the Secretary's Mess," he 

"Jesus," General Gooch said, "who's shoving us into there? Why 
not the General and Flag Officers' Mess, where boys can be boys?" 

Melville Goodwin laughed merrily. 

"Goochy always swallows the wrong way when he sees civilian 
Secretaries," he said. "It's all right, Goochy, I asked Snip to fix it. 
I told him that Sid here is a VIP and that he ought to see the 

"How about going to the Army and Navy Club?" General Gooch 

"No, no," Mel Goodwin said, "we're not dead on our feet yet, and 
I want Sid to see the top brass, too. Come on, Goochy." 

I had never been to the Secretary's Mess, although I had heard of 
it, and judging from General Gooch 's hesitation, he seemed to doubt 
whether I was up to it. 

"I don't know whether we can get a small table, sir," General 
Gooch said. 

"Then we can sit anywhere," the General said. "Maybe 'Sunny' 
Minturn will be there." 

General Gooch glanced at his wrist watch, and then his beady eyes 


met General Goodwin's wordlessly. I did not know who Minturn 
was but his name appeared to convey something significant. 

"He might be," General Gooch answered. "It's about his usual 

"I have a hunch Sunny may have some news for me," the General 
said, and he and General Gooch exchanged another wordless glance. 

"Yes, he might, sir." 

Melville Goodwin gave a pull at his blouse, although it did not 
need straightening. "Well, what are we waiting for?" he said. "Come 
on, Goochy." 

"Yes, sir," General Gooch said. "Has Mr. Skelton washed?" 

"Thanks," I said, "I feel pretty clean." 

Melville Goodwin laughed heartily, and so did General Gooch in 
a quieter and rather painful way. 

"Sid looks all right to me," the General said, "but you inspect him, 

General Gooch laughed again, clearly in the line of duty. 

"I'll pass him if you do, sir," he said. 

Melville Goodwin slapped my back affectionately and opened the 
office door. 

"Goochy knows the ropes around here," he said. "He is really set- 
tled into it. We'll be all right if we stick with Goochy." 

I followed Melville Goodwin through the outer office and out to 
the corridor with General Gooch walking close behind us. Every- 
thing we had said in the office was over and finished and filed for 
future reference. Melville Goodwin looked happy out in the corridor. 

"You know, this eating place is really something, Sid," he said. 
"Sometimes when I see it I wonder who let me in." 

It was amazing how completely he could throw himself into any 
present. His adroitness in repressing himself would have been ab- 
normal in me, but of course it was not in him. The drives within 
him might lead him up or down, but the surface was serene. 

"Oh, by the way, Sid," he was saying, "I didn't tell you, did I, that 
I have a civilian outfit now?" 

Those civilian clothes he had bought had finally arrived, he was 
saying, and he looked pretty sharp in them too, if he did say so him- 


self. He had a blue double-breasted suit and a tweed coat — Harris 
tweed with grids — and slacks like mine. 

"You wait, son," he said, "I'm going to wear the tweed tonight. 
You wait till you see it, Goochy." 

All the while he spoke the heels o£ his polished brown shoes were 
also speaking. We were all in step together and the cadence beat into 
my thoughts. 

"The trouble is, I love her," I could hear his boot heels saying. 
"The trouble is, I love her." 

He was all right in the Pentagon — he knew where he was going 
— but unfortunately he was going further than the Pentagon, alone 
into a strange country where his instinct for terrain would not assist 
him — only his instinct for self-preservation or destruction, which- 
ever it might be. 

I followed Melville Goodwin into the Secretary's dining room and 
for the first time in a long while I felt shy and callow. The mark 
which the army had left on me was stronger than I had realized. Al- 
though I might try to look about me cynically, I could not avoid my 
old reaction to rank. I could be amused by the elaborations, but in- 
grained respect told me that the place was appropriate for the in- 
dividuals who sat at the tables. It had taken them a long while to get 
there. That decorous club-like dining room was a suitable setting for 
the climax of careers. I cannot remember its details clearly, but I can 
recall its dignity and measured merriment. It was a room in which 
to sit up straight and to take your soup carefully and to speak in a 
modulated tone. In fact I found it difficult to speak at all. As Melville 
Goodwin had said, the air was very rarefied. It seemed to me that 
everyone whose picture I had ever seen was there, excepting Mac- 
Arthur, who was still in Japan. I could see why General Gooch had 
hesitated about introducing me. 

"Gooch," General Goodwin said, and I thought that even his voice 
was low and tentative, "there seems to be a small vacant table over 

It was not a statement of fact but a question. 

"Yes," General Gooch said, "but I'm not sure . . ." His words 
trailed off beneath the firm voices and the discreet sound of knives 


and forks around us. Melville Goodwin cleared his throat, and spoke 
to a Filipino petty officer who stood by the door. "May we occupy 
that small table over there, Chief?" he asked. 

"Which table, sir?" the Filipino asked. 

"Over there in the corner," Melville Goodwin said. 

There was not the slightest edge to his voice, but I was pleased to 
see that the navy snapped into it. 

"Certainly, sir," he said. 

"Thank you, Chief," the General said. "Come along, Sid." 

I was impressed by the poise of Melville Goodwin as I followed 
him. He did not walk too fast or too slowly. He smiled and nodded 
to officers who looked up at him, graciously or deferentially, accord- 
ing to their rank. 

We seemed to have walked a long way before we reached the table. 

"Sit over there, Sid," the General said, "where you can see the 

The faces at the other tables had a definite conformity, in spite of 
differences in features. They all bore the imprint of similar experi- 
ence. They were all assured. They might have been arrogant once, 
but now they were assured instead, and some were benign and al- 
most kindly — now that they could afford to be. 

"There's Sunny Minturn over there," the General said. "Who's he 
sitting with, Goochy?" 

"He's with General Candee, sir." 

"Candee?" the General said. "That isn't 'Butch' Candee, is it?" 

"There's only one Candee that I know of, sir," General Gooch said. 

"Then it's Butch," the General said. "Where's Butch been keeping 
himself? I've never seen him around here." 

"He's in from Japan, I think, sir," General Gooch answered. 

"Yes, it's Butch all right," Melville Goodwin said. "It's been ten 
years since I've seen old Butch. ... It looks like a roast beef day. 
The beef's good here." 

"Coffee with the meal, sir?" the mess attendant asked, but the Gen- 
eral wanted coffee later. 

"The first time I came in here, Goochy," the General said, "do you 
know what I thought of?" 


Neither General Gooch nor I knew what he had thought of. 

"I thought of the first time I went to the old Waldorf with Muriel 
and walked into the dining room behind her. I didn't feel I was Mel 
Goodwin at all, and this place always strikes me the same way. It's 
nice to be some place where you feel young. How about it, Goochy ?" 

"That's right, Mel," General Gooch answered. 

"Gooch," the General said, "how about telling Sid about the time 
that you were with Jenks in that jeep?" 

"Which time?" General Gooch asked. 

"Up near Metz, the time you rolled over the bank." 

"You tell it, Mel," General Gooch said. "You can tell it better," and 
he smiled at me painfully. "I don't know why the General likes that 

"Because it's a damn good story," the General said. "You see, it 
was this way, Sid. Goochy was riding in this jeep. A captain was 
driving him, named Jenks. Do you know where Jenks is now, 

"He's home," Gooch said, "practicing law in Atlanta." 

"I wouldn't have thought Jenks was a lawyer on the outside," 
Melville Goodwin said. "Well, anyway, Goochy was out riding with 
Jenks around Metz. I don't know why. Maybe Goochy was out for a 
good time. You wouldn't know it from looking at him, but he likes 
to amuse himself now and then. They skidded off the road and 
they turned a somersault in the air and landed right side up in 
the middle of a brook, and do you know what Goochy said? He 
just said, 'That's what I call service, Jenks, but after this we'd 
better walk.'" 

General Gooch smiled in a tortured way. 

"I don't know why the General likes that story, Mr. Skelton," he 
said. "There really isn't any point to it." 

General Goodwin laughed. 

"You're the point, Goochy," he said, "but maybe we'd better not 
tell any more jokes in here." He nodded genially to a friend across 
the room. "If G-l or any of the Joint Chiefs heard them, they might 
not be able to work all afternoon." 

"Right, sir," General Gooch answered. 


"You know, Sid,'* the General said, "I always have a lot of fun 
when I'm with Gooch." 

I could see why General Gooch might have been a good, efficient 
chief of staff. Officers I had met who occupied such a post were usu- 
ally meticulous executives who were forced to lash out in disagreeable 
ways in order to accomplish missions and give life to the machine. I 
could visualize Goochy giving me an artistic chewing, but I could 
not see why Melville Goodwin always had fun with him. I could 
only perceive that they were devoted to each other, and far removed 
as I was from their friendship, I was drawn closer to them by its 

"Was that the time General Gooch landed on the bottle?" I asked. 

They both stared at me blankly. 

"On a bottle?" Melville Goodwin repeated. "What bottle?" 

"Yes," General Gooch said, "what bottle?" 

I felt like an officious junior who had let himself go too far, and 
I found myself adopting my most placating military manner. 

"Perhaps I haven't got it right, sir," I said to Mel Goodwin, "but 
don't I remember your telling me that General Gooch sat down hard 
on a pint of bourbon in a jeep ? I was only wondering whether it hap- 
pened in this jeep." 

They both looked brighter. They both remembered, and General 
Gooch looked as though he had just sat again on the bottle. 

"I hoped the boss had forgotten that one," General Gooch said. 
"That was when I was with General Goodwin in another jeep — up 
near Remagen, wasn't it, Mel?" 

"You see," the General said, "Sid's got a photographic memory, 
Gooch. I forgot I'd told him about that one. That's another of 
Goochy 's jeep stories. He fragmented the bottle. He should have put 
in for the Purple Heart. It was a wound in the line of duty." 

I saw that General Gooch did have the Purple Heart. His beady 
eyes were brighter and his lips were closely held together. 

"A broken one, not purple, sir," he said. "When that bottle broke, 
my heart damn near did, too." 

Time had been moving on its course. We had finished the roast 
beef and we were each working on a hard piece of ice cream, a 


variety that seemed especially invented for an American officers' 
mess. I was back in the army again sufficiently to realize that General 
Gooch's bon mot had values that could not be captured in civil life. 
It had its own military breadth and freedom. It was just the sort of 
joke that slayed you in the army, and it worked on Melville Good- 
win. His face turned red and he began choking into his napkin. 

"Say, Goochy," he said, "make a note to tell that one at the steak 
fry tonight, will you? But don't tell any more now or I may bust a 
button. That's an order, Goochy." 

Throughout the Secretary's dining room luncheon was nearly 
over. Chairs were being pushed back, but the ripple of merriment 
from our table was not lost. I was aware of curious smiling glances, 
and so was General Goodwin. I saw General Minturn, with his three 
stars, looking at us across the room, and Butch Candee, with his one 
star. Melville Goodwin sat up straighter and waved his hand at them 
in informal greeting. A tall, pallid, bean pole of a major general with 
an Adam's apple walked toward us, and he halted at our table, smil- 
ing at Mel Goodwin. General Gooch sprang hastily out of his chair, 
but Melville Goodwin remained seated for an appreciable moment. 
Then he, too, stood up. 

"Hello, Snip," he said. "Sit down and join us, won't you? We're 
about to have some coffee, and Goochy's telling some pretty good 
ones. This is my friend, Sidney Skelton, I was telling you about. He 
used to be in the PRO. Major Skelton — General Lewis." 

I kept forgetting that my old rank could be carried into civil life, 
if I wanted it, as a graceful acknowledgment of past services. In fact 
I could have been called Colonel if I had elected to join the reserves. 
I saw at once why General Lewis had been nicknamed "Snip" — a 
vestige also of old humor from the Point, when Cadet Lewis had 
stood tallest in the tallest squad. If he had later become another Na- 
poleon, his classmates would still have called him Snip. 

"It's a real pleasure to have you here with us, Mr. Skelton," Gen- 
eral Lewis said. "I'm sorry the Secretary isn't here today, because he 
would have enjoyed meeting you — but perhaps some other time." 

"Sit down, won't you, Snip?" Melville Goodwin asked again. 

General Lewis smiled graciously and shook his head regretfully, 


but even that brief gesture conveyed ease and charm of manner. I 
could place him right away as just the sort of person who would be 
selected to accompany a chief on an overseas mission that demanded 
tact and adroitness. 

"I wish I could," he said, "and I hope Mr. Skelton will forgive me, 
but I'm due at a meeting in five minutes." He smiled at me confi- 
dentially. "Unification. Mr. Skelton probably knows we're unifica- 
tion-conscious around here now. Mel, has Sunny Minturn seen you 

Melville Goodwin's glance traveled across the room and back to 
General Lewis. He looked questioningly innocent, but General 
Gooch did not have his skill. Every line of his concave face was intent 
and intelligently watchful. 

"How do you mean, has he seen me yet?" There was just the 
slightest emphasis when Melville Goodwin spoke the word "yet." 
We were all watching General Lewis, who had the concerned expres- 
sion of someone who had said too much. 

"You would think, wouldn't you, that I'd know enough not to let 
cats out of bags by now," he said, and then the full charm of his smile 
was turned on Melville Goodwin. "Anyway, it makes me the first to 
congratulate you, Mel. Step over here for a second with me, will you ? 
Will you excuse us, Mr. Skelton, if two bad boys do a little talking 
out of school?" 

I had observed that playful manner before in other quarters, and 
I could think of women speaking of that charming General Lewis. 
He had his arm through Melville Goodwin's, and they moved slowly 
toward the entry, speaking softly to each other, with inclined heads. 

"Son of a bitch!" 

I started. It was General Gooch beside me who had spoken, and 
immediately I knew that the expletive had been purely involuntary, 
and that he had forgotten I was there. 

"Er," he said, "pardon me, Mr. Skelton." 

"That's all right," I answered. "Don't mind me." 

Of course he minded me, because I had no place in that scene. I 
wished I were not there myself, though I was caught in the fascina- 
tion of it. General Lewis and General Goodwin were shaking hands, 


and I heard General Goodwin say, "Thanks, I'll see you later, Snip." 
The tension and the waiting were over. The ghost had walked. The 
decision for Mel Goodwin's professional future must have been made 
that morning. The palms of my hands were moist. I was right in 
there praying for Melville Goodwin exactly as hard as General 
Gooch was praying. 

"Son of a bitch!'* General Gooch said again. Then I understood 
that his speech was only a release of nervous tension and that he had 
not been referring to General Lewis. Melville Goodwin was walking 
back to us. 

"Well, Goochy," he said, and his voice was hoarse and he cleared 
his throat. "We